Three board members of the Free Software Foundation have announced their resignation. This is in response to the uproar surrounding Richard Stallman’s return to the board.
The three departing board members are executive director John Sullivan, deputy director John Hsieh and CTO Ruben Rodriguez. They did not leave with much ado but announced their departure during a board meeting. The Free Software Foundation posted a short message on its website announcing that “some of our colleagues” have decided to leave. The message links to a list of FSF staff, where the word ‘outgoing’ is placed after the three departing members’ names. Later, an additional message was added in which the three board members announce their departure.
Outcry and controversy among Stallman return
A reason for the departure of the three board members is not given, but in all likelihood has everything to do with Richard Stallman’s return. Stallman was dismissed from the Free Software Foundation board in 2019 after an outcry over a comment he had made surrounding the Jeffrey Epstein rape case.
Nevertheless, Stallman recently announced that he would return to his position at the Free Software Foundation. This has led to outcry from a large part of the open-source community. This eventually led to a statement on GitHub demanding the resignation of the entire board of the Free Software Foundation. Among others, the organisations Mozilla and SUSE have signed the initiative, alongside almost three thousand individuals.
Some companies have even taken more concrete action, such as Red Hat, which has ended its support for the organisation.
Meanwhile, a letter has also been written in which several GitHub users express their support for Stallman. They believe that Stallman’s statements have been misinterpreted and should be considered separately from his qualities in leading the Free Software Foundation. The letter is signed by almost four thousand GitHub users.
Free Software Foundation continues support for Stallman
The fact that several board members of the Free Software Foundation have resigned suggests that the majority of the board has decided not to remove Stallman from his post again. The organisation published a statement last week announcing a few changes, but it mainly promised more openness in the process of hiring new board members.