Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dubunking Myths About Campus Sexual Assault

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Marquette Outlines Charges Against Warrior Blog / Our Lawyer Responds

Almost three weeks ago, we got the following letter from Richard Holz, in response to a demand from our lawyer, Rick Esenberg, that Marquette specify what we are charged with, and what is the reason for our suspension. We have reproduced Holz’ letter below, along with a response from Esenberg (just released today).
January 2, 2015

Dr. John McAdams

Dear John:

I am writing in response to your request for additional information about what prompted the current review of your conduct by Marquette University. As you know, tenure and academic freedom carry not only great privileges but also vital responsibilities and obligations. In order to endure, a scholar-teacher’s academic freedom must be grounded in integrity, including a respect for others’ opinions and the exercise of appropriate restraint. Otherwise, those such as yourself who are invested with the power that tenure affords will intimidate and silence the less-powerful – especially students. Such intimidation and silence negates the very academic freedoms that tenure is intended to enhance. Your recent actions in publicizing on the internet the name of our now-former graduate student, who had been secretly recorded by one of her students [redacted], require University review. Whatever your views of this secretly-recorded exchange in the graduate student’s office, and whatever your thoughts about separate classroom interactions that you did not observe (and putting aside the multiple other ways any concerns you had about our graduate student could have been advanced) you had no justification to put our graduate student’s name in your internet posts. The personal impact on her was plainly foreseeable, as detailed (only in part) as follows.

As a result of your unilateral, dishonorable and irresponsible decision to publicize the name of our graduate student, that student received a series of hate-filled and despicable emails including one suggesting that she had committed “treason and sedition” and as a result faced penalties such as “drawing, hanging, beheading, and quartering.” Another note, delivered to her campus mailbox, told the student, “You must undo the terrible wrong committed when you were born. Your mother failed to make the right choice. You must abort yourself for the glory of inclusiveness and tolerance.” Accordingly, and understandably, the student feared for her personal safety and we posted a Campus Security Officer outside her classroom. In addition, as a result of your conduct and its consequences, she now has withdrawn from our graduate program and moved to another University to continue her academic career. You have been asked, advised and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts. With this latest example of unprofessional and irresponsible conduct we have no confidence that you will live up to any additional assurances on your part that you will respect and protect our students. Indeed, you specifically discussed in your blog the fact that your conduct would negatively impact the student’s opportunities in the future and you expressed pride in that result.

Accordingly, we are continuing our review of your conduct and considering all appropriate responses. As before, your salary and benefits continue. We also expect you to stay away from campus now that the “few days” you requested on December 16 have expired.

Richard C. Holz, Ph.D.
Just today, our lawyer, Rick Esenberg, replied:

January 21, 2015

Ralph Weber
Gass, Weber and Mullins
309 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Re: Dr. John McAdams

Dear Ralph:

Although we met over a week ago, I have still not heard from you. While I am waiting, I thought it would be useful to reply to Dean Holz’ January 2 letter to Dr. McAdams. If it reflects the university’s position – and not just Dean Holz’ personal views – I am afraid that we are headed for litigation and continued controversy that I fear will profoundly damage Marquette.

The need for a response is bolstered by the article that appeared in Tuesday’s Journal Sentinel. In it, a university spokesperson says that Dr. McAdams remains banned from campus and implies that this is somehow necessary for the “safety” of students. I am normally not one given over to harsh adjectives, but this is preposterous.

In his letter, Dean Holz says, for the first time, that the allegedly improper conduct by Dr. McAdams was to identify Cheryl Abbate as the instructor who told a student that opposition to gay marriage would not be tolerated in her class. He does not claim that anything that Dr. McAdams said is false. He does not say that it was uncivil or constituted “harassment” under university rules. It was wrong, he says, because, even though Marquette made Ms. Abatte solely responsible for the class in question and placed her in a position of authority over undergraduates, she was still “only” a graduate student. As such, she apparently cannot be publicly criticized.

It is, of course, customary for persons engaged in debate or criticism to identify the person with whom they differ. Perhaps Dean Holz feels that, in this case, Dr. McAdams should not have done so. But regardless of what Dean Holz might prefer, Marquette does not retain the same level of discretion over its tenured faculty that an employer would normally have over its employees. Section 306.01 of the Faculty Statutes provides that the University may suspend the appointment of a faculty member only for cause as defined in Sections 306.02 and 306.03.

Dean Holz calls Dr. McAdams’ conduct “dishonorable and irresponsible,” presumably intending to invoke the Faculty Statutes’ description of conduct that may constitute cause for termination. There is no sense in which Dr. McAdams conduct can reasonably be called either of these things. Even were it otherwise, Marquette has made absolutely clear that what he writes may not be the basis for termination. Section 306.03 specifically states that in no case shall “cause be interpreted so as to impair the full and free enjoyment of legitimate personal or academic freedoms of thought, doctrine, discourse, association, advocacy, or action.” These Faculty Statutes are expressly incorporated into Dr. McAdams’ contract with Marquette.

Under this contract, Dr. McAdams has been promised at least the same level of protections as university professors employed by the government receive under the First Amendment. That freedom has been described by various courts in various ways. In Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U. S.234, 250 (1957), the Supreme Court said:
The essentiality of freedom in the community of American universities is almost self-evident. No one should underestimate the vital role in a democracy that is played by those who guide and train our youth. To impose any strait jacket upon the intellectual leaders in our colleges and universities would imperil the future of our Nation. … Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.
As the U.S. Supreme Court noted in Keyishian v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of State of N. Y., 385 U.S. 589, 603, 87 S. Ct. 675, 683, 17 L. Ed. 2d 629 (1967), “[t]he Nation's future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to that robust exchange of ideas which discovers truth ‘out of a multitude of tongues, (rather) than through any kind of authoritative selection. [citations omitted]”

Apparently Dean Holz believes that there is an exception – unstated in or to be reasonably implied from the Faculty Statutes – for speech responding to the arguments of graduate students – even when Marquette places graduate students in the position of instructors and gives them control over a classroom. But that is surely not the case. In fact, the university’s spokesperson was quoted in the media as saying otherwise. Faculty, he said, are free to “voice an opinion about whether a potentially controversial offensive subject should be allowed by a TA to be discussed in class.” Perhaps Dean Holz thinks there is some unwritten (and, as far as we know, unstated) codicil somewhere that says no one must publicly identify a graduate instructor – even if, as it was here, one is responding to a position that the instructor expressed from a position of authority.

There is no such codicil. As we pointed out in our previous letter addressed to President Lovell, Dr. McAdams’ conduct does not violate any Faculty Statute or other university requirement. Nothing in the statutes or any other university policy prohibits a faculty member from publicly disagreeing with a graduate student, much less someone who has been given sole responsibility for a course and authority over every student enrolled in it. Having accepted that authority and responsibility, the instructor in question chose to express her view on what can and cannot be permitted in academic discourse. In fact she relied on her authority as a “professor of ethics” in order to do so. That was her right. But Dr. McAdams is free to offer his differing view. Punishing him for doing so violated his right to academic freedom.

Dean Holz claims that Dr. McAdams has been “asked, advised and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with [his] blog posts.” Apart from the fact that there would be no basis for doing so – particularly with respect to a person that the university has placed in charge of a class – this is simply false. Some months ago, Dean Holz told Dr. McAdams that representatives of a Palestinian student organization had felt “intimidated” during an interview by Dr. McAdams. Dean Holz’ letter dated September 24, 2014 says that he “trusts” Dr. McAdams will be “mindful” of the need to be sensitive with respect to his questions and status as a tenured faculty member. (Dr. McAdams believes that he was.) The letter says nothing about not publicizing any students’ names – much less those that the university has placed in charge of courses.

Dean Holz complains that Ms. Abbatte received nasty e-mails from unknown persons after her views were exposed. That is regrettable just as it is regrettable that Dr. McAdams and many others receive hostile – and often anonymous - criticisms in response to the positions that they take. But there is also no “heckler’s veto” exception to the university’s guarantee of academic freedom. Dr. McAdams has blogged on matters related to the university for many years, often sharply criticizing persons with whom he disagrees. None of these persons were ever subject to threatening en-mails. If this was the first time, the responses were “forseeable” only in the sense that, human nature being what it is, one’s views will sometimes elicit uncivil responses. Certainly Ms. Abbatte, if she wishes a career engaged in public and academic discourse over matters of ethics, is going to have to get used to this. Judging from her personal website, she is certainly capable of fending for herself.

But whatever the provenance of these nasty comments or the reasonableness of the university’s response, academic freedom is not limited by the responses it provokes. One would hope, in light of recent events in France, that the university does not believe that freedom of expression must be restricted less it provoke illiberal extremists.

During our conversation, you took some time to “defend” Ms. Abbatte’s comments, claiming that she offered to allow students to address the issue of same sex marriage in a subsequent class and denying (without explanation) that she meant what she quite clearly said. At no time did she qualify her remarks to the student by indicating, for example, that one could not oppose same sex marriage under Rawls’ equal liberty principle or that only certain types of arguments against same sex marriage are homophobic and offensive. You were critical of the undergraduate student to whom she expressed the views in question. We could debate these points but they don’t matter. Dr. McAdams’ academic freedom is not qualified by whether or not he was “right” or by what we think of the conduct of others.

Finally, as to the comments reported in yesterday’s newspaper, spokesperson Dorrington is reported to have said that, in banning Dr. McAdams from campus, the “safety of our students and campus community is our top priority.” He adds that the university will not tolerate “abuse” or “harassment” of students. Tell me, is it the university’s position that disagreement with someone constitutes endangering their “safety? Is it the university’s position that criticism is tantamount to “abuse” and “harassment?” These would be extraordinary positions and hard to reconcile with Mr. Dorrington’s concession that “a professor would not be subject to a review of this nature simply for voicing an opinion.”

Is it the university’s position that Dr. McAdams has done something other than voice an opinion? If so, we have not heard it say so. That leads us to yet another topic – the procedural irregularity of what is being done to Dr. McAdams. It says it has not suspended him (that would require compliance with the provisions of section 307 of the Faculty Statutes), so what, exactly is it doing and where is the authority for doing it?

In addition to the substantive problems with the university’s actions, it has failed to provide Dr. McAdams with the procedural protections that his contract requires. It has suspended him in violation of the Faculty Statutes and in breach of his contract. The University has publicly suggested that Dr. McAdams has engaged in an expression of “hate or abuse.” Spokesperson Dorrington has implied that his presence on campus would endanger students and this conduct somehow constitutes “abuse” and “harassment.” These statements are false and defamatory, and have aggravated the injury to Dr. McAdams. Dean Holz now says that Dr. McAdams has engaged in conduct that is dishonorable and irresponsible. If Dean Holz has repeated those words to any third party it would be a further act of defamation.

Ralph, Dr. McAdams does not desire litigation or to be in a position of conflict with the university. He respects the right of Dean Holz and Ms. Abbatte and anyone else to disagree with him and criticize his views. But I can assure that, if the university wants a national controversy over this, it shall have it. If it wants to make itself a poster child for overweening political correctness and Dr. McAdams a martyr to the cause of free expression, it need only continue on its current course.

We have already submitted a formal objection on behalf of Dr. McAdams. Dr. McAdams expects the University to reverse Dean Holz’ actions to date, to formally reinstate Dr. McAdams and reserves his right to proceed against the University if it does not do so promptly.

Very truly yours.

Richard Esenberg
President and General Counsel
We’ll have some further comments later. At the moment, Esenberg’s letter stands as a cogent rebuke to Marquette.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Support for Marquette Warrior from Dan Maguire

We were quite pleased to get the following e-mail, sent to several university officials, copied to us. We are publishing it with the permission of the author.
Dear Doctor Lovell,

[Discussion of two other issues omitted]

L’affaire McAdams:

At a faculty meeting on last Thursday, our theology chair Bob Masson recommended that we write our views on this case to you if we wished.

I was at dinner with several local attorneys when the banishment of Professor McAdams was in the press. From what they read in the press (and the story has gone national) they could not understand, nor could I, how the punishment would be inflicted before the promised “review.” It struck them as a blatant violation of due process legal requirements that exposed the university to unnecessary liabilities and risks. (General Counsel cc’d above)

The AAUP allows for the suspension of a professor, but never without due process. The penalty you imposed on Professor McAdams is, in AAUP terms, “a severe sanction.” According to the norms of the academe it cannot be imposed without well spelled out procedures. Courts are often influenced by the established norms of the organization involved in a case, in this case the academe.

If the administration believes that the conduct of a faculty member, although not constituting adequate cause for dismissal, is sufficiently grave to justify imposition of a severe sanction, such as suspension from service for a stated period, the administration may institute a proceeding to impose such a severe sanction; the procedures outlined in regulation 5 will govern such a proceeding.” (Policy Documents & Reports: American Association of University Professors, 1990 Edition, p. 27)
The sanction you imposed is not just a “severe sanction.” In almost half a century in the academe, I have never seen a similar punishment imposed on a professor in this “blunt instrument” fashion. The banning of the professor from campus unless he gets permission from the dean strikes me as bizarre, demeaning, and unjust. It announces on the public record that Professor McAdams is some sort of threat to the persons in this academic community.....leaving volatile suspicions in the air as to what that threat could be. Is he less a threat when he has the dean’s permission to be on campus? If the unavoidable inference that Professor McAdams is so threatening as to merit banishment is true, has campus security been alerted to protect us from Professor McAdams?

Over the years Professor McAdams and I have disagreed on many issues–and he has excoriated me on his blog—but all my personal interactions with him have been uniformly civil and urbane. Again, as Cardinal Newman said, in a university many minds are free to compete. That’s the glory of it.

This “unnecessary roughness” to borrow a term from the NFL, has already inflicted damage on Professor McAdams’ professional reputation. I am not surprised at the report that he has retained counsel.

I believe you owe us more explanation that you have given on your decision on this matter. Since reports on this situation have gotten national attention and stirred up remembrance of the Dr. Jodi O’Brien contract violation Marquette’s reputation is affected. We are all affected. The incident has a chilling effect on all members and staff since it implies that due-process protections may be brittle and uncertain at this university and specifically under your presidency. It is certainly not an aid in recruiting quality faculty.

Finally, I have not heard the possibility broached that better mentoring of graduate student teachers re handling student inquiries and requests could have obviated this brouhaha. Experienced teachers know that there were better ways the student teacher could have handled this situation.

As a courtesy, I will copy in those referenced in this letter.

Daniel C. Maguire

Given our disagreements on various issues, one might say this is support from “an unexpected source.” But it isn’t really.

Maguire has enjoyed the benefits of academic freedom at Marquette while supporting abortion and gay marriage, and calling on the President of Marquette to resign.

So in supporting our academic freedom, he’s being consistent. Yes, people coming from very different ideological perspectives can support the right of free expression for those who differ.

We, of course, published the form letter that Marquette sent to people who wrote demanding that Maguire be fired. We characterized it as “a rather good letter that makes a cogent case.” We also insisted that people disappointed in the increasingly secular direction of Marquette “get clear on the areas in which the University has been derelict, and those in which the University has done the necessary thing in protecting academic freedom.”

Failures in Philosophy

Maguire raises “the possibility . . . that better mentoring of graduate student teachers re handling student inquiries and requests could have obviated this brouhaha.”

Indeed it could have.

In the wake of the after-class discussion, in which the student was told that any class comments opposing gay marriage would be homophobic and would “offend” any gay students in the class, he talked to a university employee who advised him that he had a right to complain. A complaint to the Arts & Sciences Dean’s office got him referred to Nancy Snow, Chair of the Philosophy Department. According to The College Fix (which interviewed the student):
The student said he only wants Marquette to acknowledge the instructor was wrong to tell him he couldn’t bring up gay marriage, and ensure that students in the future will be allowed to speak in similar classroom situations.
But not having received any redress at all, the student told us about it.

Snow, of course, could hardly be expected to be sympathetic.  In 2008, Snow was talking about “racial profiling” in her class and a student chimed in with a police perspective on the issue.  Snow not only tried to shut him up in class, but after class she insisted he write an e-mail of apology to two black students in the class, whom she presumed were offended.

Marquette, in other words, blundered in allowing someone like Snow to hear the complaint.

So what we have here is a blatant case of the political correctness that increasingly dominates academia.

A politically-correct instructor told a student that his views were homophobic and “offensive.”  A politically correct department chair not only failed to respond to the students complaint, she reacted in a hostile manner.  And when we blew the whistle on this whole fiasco, we were suspended.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Universities and Free Expression: Canada is as Bad as the U.S.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Blaming the Messenger for Outing Bigoted Speech

From FrontPage Mag:
After cop-hating lynch mobs got what they were chanting for – the execution of two New York police officers – there was widespread disgust and anger among decent, sane Americans. Among others, there was indifference, amusement, and even celebration.

Brandeis University student Khadijah Lynch, for example, an undergraduate representative for the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, took to Twitter to express that she found the murders of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos, a Latino father of two, and Wenjian Liu, an Asian-American newlywed, to be hilarious: “lmao, all i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist f**king country,” read the junior’s illiterate tweet.

Fellow Brandeis student Daniel Mael, a Horowitz Freedom Center student leader and TruthRevolt reporter, took to to publicize Lynch’s tweet and others of hers like it, such as these:
“i have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today”
“what the f**k even IS ‘non-violence’”
“ya’ll out here waiting for a white messiah, im waiting for Malcolm X to return.”
“the fact that black people have not burned this country down is beyond me”
“I am in riot mode. F**k this f**king country”
“I need to get my gun license. asap.”
. . .

Suddenly regarding themselves as First Amendment champions, some Brandeis students leapt to Lynch’s defense. As reported by the Daily Caller, senior Michael Piccione, a member of the student conduct board, was upset that a conservative website had called her out for the tweets. He sent an email to the Brandeis President, administrators, faculty, and students entitled “VERY IMPORTANT: Holding Daniel Mael accountable, and other threats to student safety!” In it he declared that Mael had “potentially violated multiple parts” of a Brandeis code of student conduct including “stalking,” and complained that Mael had “exposed Khadijah” to what Piccione falsely characterized as TruthRevolt’s “largely white supremacist following.” So he condemns supremacism unless it’s black, and libel unless it’s against conservatives.

. . .

The Brandeis Asian American Student Association proclaimed “sympathy” and a “readiness to stand by” Lynch as well, even though one of the slain NYPD officers was Asian-American. On Facebook, the student group claimed that Lynch “has been wrongfully targeted and harassed.” “We recognize your right to speak freely” they declared, although no one was denying her that.

A petition adorned with black power fists and black liberation colors was created to “stand with Khadijah.” It charges, with inexplicable capitalization, that Mael’s article was “Libel,” “Defamation of Character,” and “Cyber bullying.” It has 1,220 signatures as of this writing, a week after posting.
Sound like anything at Marquette?

A leftist says something intolerant and poisonous, and it is accurately reported, and the person who reported it (and not the person who made the questionable statements) is under attack?

Welcome to academia, where inflammatory and intolerant speech is not to be called out, or reported.

Of course, Brandeis did nothing to punish Mael.  Nor did it punish Lynch, whose comments were bigoted and inflammatory, but within her rights to express.   Free expression, in this case, wins at Brandeis.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

. . . and a Happy New Year.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Marquette’s Feckless, Disingenuous Attack on the Warrior Blog / Lawyer Responds

The latest, from our lawyer Rick Esenberg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

University violated its own faculty procedures, failed to respect academic freedom

December 23, 2014, Milwaukee, WI – Yesterday afternoon, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (“WILL”) asked Marquette University to abide by its own rules and to honor its commitment to academic freedom. On behalf of its client, John McAdams, WILL sent a letter to Marquette University raising serious legal issues with how it has treated Dr. McAdams.

Dr. McAdams recently received a letter from the Dean of the College of Letters and Science relieving him from his duties as a tenured member of Marquette’s faculty, banning him from campus and from any activity that would cause him to come into contact with any member of the Marquette community. The letter, taking a page from Franz Kafka’s The Trial, offered no explanation of what Dr. McAdams is alleged to have done or how it might violate any of the university’s rules and regulations. When Dr. McAdams asked for an explanation, he received no reply.

Suspending a faculty member without specification of what he or she has done wrong and the process for contesting the suspension violates Marquette’s Faculty Statutes. As WILL put it, the letter to Dr. McAdams says only that “he is being investigated for some unnamed event that might violate some unidentified requirement of the university to be found somewhere in one of several documents enclosed with the letter.” While Marquette now claims that Dr. McAdams has not been suspended because “suspension” means “without pay,” its Faculty Statutes say otherwise. All suspensions are with pay. “When someone does not want to follow the rules or explain what he is doing, it’s generally a sign of a deeper problem,” said WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg. In this case, the problem seems to be the failure of the university to abide by its own guarantees of academic freedom.

Subsequent statements from the university have made clear that the basis for the suspension is a blog post in which Dr. McAdams publicly criticized a graduate instructor in the Philosophy Department for telling a student that opposition to same sex marriage would not be tolerated in her class because it would be considered offensive and homophobic. Dr. McAdams expressed the view that such statements were consistent with a regrettable trend on the left to dismiss disfavored views out of hand as “offensive” rather than debate them on the merits.

Suspension of Dr. McAdams for engaging in academic discourse would violate Section 306.03 of Marquette’s Faculty Statutes, which prohibits suspension or termination for reasons that would impair the full and free enjoyment of legitimate personal or academic freedoms of thought, doctrine, discourse, association, advocacy, or action. “The point is not whether you agree or disagree about what should and should not be said in class or how you feel about same sex marriage,” said Esenberg. “It’s not even about whether Dr. McAdams could have or should have phrased his view differently,” he continued. He explained that the University has committed itself to the robust exchange of ideas and it has promised its faculty that they will not be disciplined for participation in that exchange WILL’s letter asks that Dr. McAdams’ suspension (or whatever other thing it might be) be rescinded and that he be restored to his duties. “I’m not in this for anything but academic freedom,” Dr. McAdams said. “I just want to remind Marquette of its own principles and promises and ask that they be followed.”

****** The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty is a non-profit, public interest law firm promoting the public interest in constitutional and open government, individual liberty, and a robust civil society. Further inquiries may be directed to Mr. Esenberg at rick@will-law.
For a more detailed outline of the case, including details of how Marquette violated its own statutes, and then fibbed about what the statutes mean, check the letter that WILL wrote to President Lovell.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Abusive E-mail from “Tolerant” Liberal

In the wake of the brouhaha over our blog post on a Marquette instructor who told a student that any opposition to gay marriage would be “homophobic” and should not be allowed in class since it might offend gay students, we were suspended by Marquette.

The result has been a huge number of supportive e-mails to us, but every so often we get a nasty one. Here is an example that just came in: []
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2014 8:58 PM
To: McAdams, John

I am so pleased to read in the Milwaukee paper on Saturday that you are relieved of all your duties. Gramps, it’s time for retirement not teaching your intolerance and old time “values” to young people. A good fit for you would be a Fox News Commentator or maybe you and Michele Bachmann from Minnesota could team up for some more intolerance.


James Hansen
It is a common irony of modern day political correctness: people who want to shut up speech, and say hateful things about people on the other side of contemporary debates claim to wear the mantle of “tolerance.”

It’s almost a rule of modern politics. The people most likely to talk of “tolerance” are the least tolerant.

In fact, our original post said nothing about the merits of gay marriage. It simply supported the right of people to oppose it without being called homophobes, and the idea that it should not be banned in college classes because some gay student might be offended.

But in the minds of a lot of the politically correct, if you really support gay marriage, you will want to shut up opposition, and to vilify people who don't agree with you.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Student Support for Marquette Warrior

We are rather gratified that, in our dispute with Marquette and politically correct leftists on campus (and across the nation) we have gotten support for a fair number of Marquette students.

First, there is a petition supporting us.

Second, Turning Point USA is sponsoring a demonstration supporting us, scheduled for Monday at 11:00 a.m. at Zilber Hall on the Marquette campus.

We expect to be there. It’s not a great day for a demonstration (cold, and with students gone for Christmas break), so we will greatly appreciate the folks who show up.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Marquette’s Suspension of Marquette Warrior Violated Marquette’s Own Rules

We just yesterday reported that we have been “suspended” from our duties at Marquette, due to a blog post of ours that criticized a Philosophy instructor who informed a student that gay marriage could not be discussed in her class because any opposition to the policy would be “homophobic” and would likely “offend” any gay students in the class.

The “suspension” is a bit of a joke, since it’s Christmas break and we aren’t teaching. We are only working on a manuscript, and are allowed to go to campus to do that.

Leave aside issues of academic freedom, and the fact that Marquette, when faced with a brouhaha that was dying down,  chose to heat it up to white hot.  There is the fact that in suspending us Marquette violated its own rules, which can be found here.
Section 307.03

In all cases of nonrenewal, suspension, or termination for absolute or discretionary cause, except Section 307.02(1) and (3), death, and permanent, total disability, the appropriate appointing authority of the University shall notify the faculty member in writing of the University's action. The notice shall include:

(1) The statute allegedly violated; the date of the alleged violation; the location of the alleged violation; a sufficiently detailed description of the facts constituting the violation including the names of the witnesses against the faculty member.

(2) The nature of the University’s contemplated action, with a specification of the date or dates upon which such action is to become effective with respect to faculty status, duties, salary, and benefit entitlements, respectively.

(3) Such notice shall be personally delivered and service shall operate from date of such delivery; if in the exercise of reasonable diligence it is not possible to personally serve the faculty member, it may be served by certified mail addressed to the faculty member’s last known place of residence, and service shall operate from date of mailing.
In fact, all of Section 1 was violated by the letter of suspension we got, which did not specify the statute allegedly violated, the date of the alleged violation, the location of the alleged violation, and any of the supposed facts of the violation.

Since this was about a blog post, there were plenty of witnesses, but none of them were named.

We were also told that the “university is continuing to review your conduct” but were not told the nature of any “contemplated action.”

Did university officials rattle off the letter without consulting counsel?

Did they think they could blow off their published rules? In any legal action, Marquette’s failure to follow its own rules will have negative consequences.

We have first rate legal counsel: Rick Esenberg and his colleagues at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.

Marquette’s inept handling of this whole issue has been obvious. They appear to be on track to get into yet more trouble.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Reprisal: Marquette Warrior Under “Investigation” By University

It created more controversy than any blog other post we have done: an account of a Philosophy instructor at Marquette who told a student that gay marriage could not be discussed in her class since any opposition would be “homophobic” and would “offend” any gay students in the class. Not only did the story echo among Catholic outlets and sites dedicated to free speech on campus, but it created considerable blow back among leftist academics, who pretty much demanded our head on a pike.

Today we got an e-mail from Dean Richard Holz:
Dear John:

The university is continuing to review your conduct and during this period--and until further notice--you are relieved of all teaching duties and all other faculty activities, including, but not limited to, advising, committee work, faculty meetings and any activity that would involve your interaction with Marquette students, faculty and staff. Should any academic appeals arise from Fall 2014 semester, however, you are expected to fulfill your obligations in that specific matter.

Your salary and benefits will continue at their current level during this time.

You are to remain off campus during this time, and should you need to come to campus, you are to contact me in writing beforehand to explain the purpose of your visit, to obtain my consent and to make appropriate arrangements for that visit. I am enclosing with this letter Marquette’s harassment policy, its guiding values statement, the University mission statement, and sections from the Faculty Handbook, which outline faculty rights and responsibilities; these documents will inform our review of your conduct.


Richard C. Holz, Ph.D. Dean
We wrote him back and asked what the charges against us are. He failed to respond. Since we have done nothing particularly controversial lately besides blog about the Philosophy instructor (one Cheryl Abbate), we have to assume that’s what it is about.

The fact that Holz sent the “harassment policy” suggests that somebody thinks that merely blogging about questionable conduct by a Philosophy instructor constitutes “harassment.” Marquette’s harassment policy is absurdly vague and includes “behavior is intimidating, hostile or demeaning or could or does result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or harm.” That’s right, even mental discomfort (which should be a normal part of having one’s opinions challenged in a university) is considered harassing.

However, the behavior must be directed toward a protected class (color, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, veteran status, age, gender or sexual orientation), and leftist philosophers are not a protected class.

As for having to remain off campus — in effect, being treated like a potential terrorist — we don’t know where that came from. The last time we were accused of harassment (it was sexual harassment, since we told an entire class that feminists grossly exaggerate the incidence of college date rape) we were not treated like a terrorist.

We insisted to Holz that we need to come to campus to complete a manuscript we are working on, he said that was OK.

Whether Marquette officials really want to punish us for blogging, or whether they simply feel the need for a pro forma “investigation” of charges someone has brought, we don’t know. Either would be gross misconduct on the part of Marquette officials. Any attempt to censor our blog not only would violate the canons of academic freedom, but would reverse years of precedent, since we have been free to criticize things going on at Marquette for nearly ten years now. And an “investigation” constitutes a form of harassment. Any charges against us should have been summarily dismissed.

Marquette, in other words, has again shown itself to be timid, overly bureaucratic and lacking any commitment to either its Catholic mission or free expression.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Who is Al Sharpton


Friday, December 12, 2014

Marquette’s Repressive “Harassment” Training Continues to Create Controversy

We broke the story right here:  Marquette’s compulsory training on “harassment” that basically told employees “shut up.”  Don’t express political opinions that politically correct people don’t like (such as opposition to gay marriage).  Don’t display an anti-war poster.  Don’t make ethnic jokes, even to somebody who is not the least bit offended by them.

It has been picked up widely, first by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and further by Minding the Campus, as well as other outlets too numerous to mention here.

Some of the comments on Minding the Campus were withering.  For example, the “training” module condemns as harassment a computer screen saver of a man nude from the waist up (his trousers cover everything from the waist down).  A commenter asked:
What if I have a crucifix with a shirtless Jesus? Is that offensive at Jesuit Marquette, too? Better investigate the chapel on campus!
Another commenter noted (referring to the “affirmative consent” laws that require explicit consent to engage in sex):
So, according to universities, I have to practice recognizing nonverbal cues “indicating that a colleague might not welcome certain conduct” or I could be charged with harassment.

At the same time, according to California, it is supposedly impossible for me to tell whether my sexual partner is okay with what we are doing based on nonverbal cues.

Okay, academia.
The latest round of attention has come from the Catholic News Agency, and has been followed up by the Cardinal Newman Society.

These stories added a sinister twist:  some of the language coming out of the Federal civil rights bureaucracy suggests that opposing gay marriage could indeed be considered harassment by the bureaucrats.

Quoting a spokeswoman for the EEOC:
Christine Nazer, a public affairs specialist for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told CNA Dec. 4 that courts have found “particular pejorative behavior or remarks about same-sex relationships to be potential harassment (which employers may act to stop even if it has not yet risen to the actionable level of severe or pervasive), or alternatively to be evidence of discriminatory motivation in a termination case.”
Note that the statement merely says that “particular pejorative behavior or remarks” might be punishable. But the instinct of timid conformist bureaucrats is not to protect free speech, and interpret restrictions on speech narrowly. It’s to shut up anything that anybody might object to.

And timid, conformist bureaucrats is exactly what we have at Marquette.

Conform, Don’t Fight

University administrators who have some sense of mission, and some desire to protect the integrity of their institutions can indeed fight repressive government regulations. A long list of Catholic colleges and universities has been fighting the Obamacare contraception mandate. Marquette, shamefully, is not among them.

Likewise, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been challenging guidelines from the Department of Education that make it absurdly easy to convict a student accused of rape.

We can’t imagine Marquette doing anything of the sort.

Feckless Response from Marquette

When Marquette does something stupid, poor Brian Dorrington, chief spokesman for Marquette, has to produce some evasive, mealy-mouthed response to inquiries. Catholic News Agency described his response as follows::
He said the presentation uses “hypothetical scenarios” are “teaching tools [and] do not necessarily equate to university policy.” “They are simply tools to raise awareness of various forms of harassment that could arise,” he said, adding that any specific harassment case “would be reviewed on an individual basis.”
That’s right. Dorrington is saying that the “training” that all Marquette employees and faculty were subjected to does “not necessarily equate to university policy.”

Or to put it more bluntly: “we told people ‘you better shut up,’ but if you fail to shut up, you might or might not be punished.”


The university official responsible for this fiasco is Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., Associate Provost for Academic Initiatives. In preparing our initial story we tried to contact him, both e-mailing him and leaving voice mail. We also copied our e-mail to him to Dr. Margaret Callahan, Interim Provost. Hendrickson failed to respond, but instead we got a bland, evasive response from Dorrington.

The issue is this: if the “training” module was actually reviewed by Hendrickson, he showed absurdly bad judgment in approving it. In fact, his approval would show that he cares little for the supposed Catholic mission of the university, or for free expression.

If he failed to review it, it shows extreme negligence on his part, especially when the concept “harassment” is being used to shut up speech that is merely politically incorrect, and to suppress opinions disliked by liberals and leftists.

And Hendrickson, we learn, has been tapped to be the new President of Creighton University.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Marquette: No Attempt to Censor Marquette Warrior (Yet)

A huge brouhaha erupted when we blogged about an instructor in the Philosophy Department who told a student (in an after class conversation) that his opinions in opposition to gay marriage were “homophobic” and that discussion of the issue had to be banned since any gay students in class would be “offended.”

 It went national in outlets that were appalled at the suppression of the Catholic Church’s position at a so called “Catholic university,” and at outlets that support free expression on college campuses.

It also created a backlash among leftist and politically correct academics who apparently agreed with the actions of the instructor, one Cheryl Abbate.

One of the nastiest (and most hypocritical) attacks came from some Marquette department chairs in humanities and the social sciences.

 Marquette reacted to the uproar with the following statement from the Provost:
I am writing to address recent discussions within the campus community concerning the issues of collegiality, professionalism and academic freedom.

The university has guidelines and processes to ensure that all of our faculty, staff and students are treated fairly. These processes allow us to thoughtfully address both incidents themselves and the ways that others have reacted to them.
Shortly thereafter, Brian Dorrington (Marquette PR guy) told various media outlets that Marquette was:
. . . reviewing both a concern raised by a student and a concern raised by a faculty member. We are taking appropriate steps to make sure that everyone involved is heard and treated fairly. In compliance with state and federal privacy laws, we will not publicly share the results of the reviews.
This claim of confidentiality, of course, sounds like a nice strategy for evading issues and keeping everybody happy. They can believe they are getting what they want from the Marquette administration, but that the whole thing must be kept “confidential.”


We don’t know what consequences came of all this, with the exception of the fact that Arts & Sciences Dean Rick Holz wrote a letter of reprimand to Philosophy Department Chair Nancy Snow for her verbal assault on us in a university café (in the presence of a prospective job candidate).

Marquette has made no attempt to censor the Marquette Warrior, nor have we received any sort of reprimand.

It would be nice to believe that this is because Marquette values academic freedom. But the reality is probably less flattering to Marquette.

Holtz Investigates

On Wednesday, November 19, we got an e-mail from Kim Patterson in the office of Holz. It said Holz wanted to meet with us.

We e-mailed him and made it clear to him that we would not accept any sort of reprimand or attempt to censor our blog. He wrote back with a conciliatory message:
Hi John. I think there has been a misunderstanding. I would like to meet with you tomorrow to just gather facts and listen to your side of the issue. As I have indicated before, I was asked by the Provost to gather information and do the fact finding investigation. So I have listened to the recording by the student and read your blog. I would like to hear from you directly and also hear from you about your run-in with Nancy Snow.
And then in a later e-mail:
Hi John. Your blog is your business but we will have to discuss aspects of what you blogged about as I think it is relevant to the issues. I am not planning to “reprimand, censure, or harass” you in any way. I simply want to have a conversation with you so I have a better understanding about what happened here.
Fair enough, we thought, and we even apologized to Holz for our initial testy response.


When we finally arrived at the meeting (on November 20) Holz was congenial enough and got some factual information from us.

But then he offered us some advice that could be interpreted as an attempt at intimidation (although he probably did not see it that way).

He noted that we had (before we went live with the story) e-mailed Cheryl Abbate from our Marquette account asking her for her version of what transpired. He suggested that we should keep our blogging separate from our Marquette business. He suggested we should consult Marquette’s guideline for computer use on that.

We told him that our blogging is a form of publication (if not a particularly exalted one), and research for publication is most certainly something for which we can use Marquette resources. We told him he would be opening a “can of worms” if he made an issue of that.

Then, worse, he told us we should consult Marquette’s guidelines on harassment – the implicit suggestion being that we were “harassing” people with our blogging. We told him we know the guidelines quite well, and that Marquette’s guidelines are absurdly broad, but that for anything to be called “harassment” it has to be directed against a “protected class.” People with politically correct leftist political opinions are not a protected class.

We asked Holz if he had completed the university “training” about harassment, and he replied that he had. We pointing out that the “training” clearly teaches that merely expressing opposition to gay marriage to a fellow employee could be considered “harassment.” He blandly replied [paraphrasing] “yes, the definition is getting broader.”

His response gave no indication that he had any reservations about defining the mere expression of a political opinion as harassment.

We explained to him that if we got anything from Marquette that even vaguely resembled a reprimand we would call our lawyer, and that “we have a lawyer who loves to sue Marquette.”

We have heard nothing further from Marquette

Evaluating Holz

Holz probably didn’t even perceive his statements as questionable. He came across as a conventional, bland, risk averse bureaucrat. Such bureaucrats find free expression problematic, since it creates complaints to the bureaucrats. Holz probably thought he was giving us good advice as to how to avoid controversy and of course, our avoiding controversy would avoid controversy for him. He apparently didn’t understand that we don’t mind controversy.

And especially not at Marquette University, were outrageous excesses of political correctness happen quite regularly.

Evaluating Marquette

Generally, free speech can prevail on a college campus, but only if the speaker is willing to make a stink about it. The preferred mode of operation among campus bureaucrats is to quietly “handle” conflict, and to chill free expression.

Often, a stifling climate of political correctness can do the job for them, as students come to understand that they will be attacked and derided for stands unpopular among the politically correct activists, and as faculty avoid conflict.

All of this is the result of an unfortunate confluence of intolerance among the faculty (especially in the humanities and social sciences) and conformity and timidity among vision-less administrators.

In this, Marquette is probably no worse than a lot of other universities, but it’s also no better.

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