E-mail message of 19 December 2004 from Geoffrey Bennington and Peggy Kamuf to colleagues at UC.

Dear Colleague,

We are writing to ask your help with an important and very complex issue. We apologize in advance for the length of this communication, but the complexities involved demand careful exposition.
        As you know, Jacques Derrida was very disturbed when he was informed last spring of the charges made against a colleague at UCI under the new UC policy concerning consensual “amorous” (or “sexual” or “romantic”) relationships.  A letter he addressed to the UCI Chancellor last July stated clearly that, unless the threat of sanctions against this colleague were withdrawn, he would, among other actions, curtail his cooperation with the archives at UCI’s library where his papers have been collected.  We cite the pertinent passage from this letter:

since I never take back what I have given, my papers would of course remain the property of UCI and the Special Collections department of the library.  However, it goes without saying that the spirit in which I contributed to the constitution of these archives (which is still underway and growing every year) would have been seriously damaged.  Without renouncing my commitments, I would regret having made them and would reduce their fulfillment to the barest minimum.  I could no longer promise the work, devotion, and good will that I believe I have always demonstrated, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically, toward the operation of these archives meant for researchers who, from Irvine and from elsewhere, are already working there and could be working there more and more in the future­but always, as stipulated in the gift contract, with my authorization and after I have approved their request.  This authorization would become increasingly selective and infrequent.

            Before his death, Jacques knew that sanctions had indeed been decided and applied in the case in question.  Despite this disappointing outcome, he nevertheless let it be known to his colleagues at UCI that he could reconsider his decision to minimize relations with that university, and most crucially with the archives, on the condition that there be a significant show of solidarity and protest against the policy that, he believed, ought to be wholly unacceptable to an academic community, or indeed to any community.  He died, however, without having learned whether or not this condition would or could be met.
            This brings us to the reasons for this letter.  We write as the two academic advisors whom Jacques named to a committee for the oversight of the UCI archives of his papers.  With his heirs and a representative from UCI’s Special Collections, we are entrusted with the future of this very important and largely untapped collection of papers, which includes 30 years of unpublished seminars.  We write with the permission and understanding of Mme Marguerite Derrida, who wishes to honor fully Jacques’ intentions in this matter.  Finally, we write because we believe you may be able to reassure her and us that representatives of the faculty of the University of California have indeed responded with significant and effective protest to the policy that Jacques Derrida was surely not alone in wishing to see repealed, amended, or denounced. 
            Mme Derrida has thus asked us to ascertain, if possible, whether or not the spirit of the condition her husband set on his continued cooperation with the archives has been met or could still be met in the near future.  We understand that you have been active in some fashion that would honor this spirit of protest and solidarity.  We are asking you therefore on her behalf, and in honor of Jacques’s memory, to put in writing whatever knowledge you have of steps taken to reverse this policy and/or to protest sanctions that could, now or in the future, be applied to your UC colleagues under its authority.  Our aim is to collect this testimony and submit it to Mme Derrida so that she may judge whether or not to reconsider Jacques’s stated intention to limit his cooperation with the operation of the archives.
            We are sure you understand what is now at stake:  nothing less than the future of the Derrida archives at UCI.  But also in the balance is the respect owed to the decisions of one who was above all a man of principle and integrity.  It is in his memory that we appeal to you for help in this painful circumstance.
Geoffrey Bennington
Peggy Kamuf