Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Airhead Celebrities Tout Ferguson Lies

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marquette in Academic Freedom Hall of Shame

From the (liberal) Huffington Post, “Free Speech on Campus: The 10 Worst Offenders of 2014.”

Featured, of course, is Marquette, and its attempt to fire us for a blog post that the politically correct crowd did not like.
Marquette University

Marquette University’s chilling campaign to revoke the tenure of political science professor John McAdams due to writings on his private blog ensures its place on this year’s list. McAdams criticized a graduate instructor for what he viewed as her inappropriate suppression of certain viewpoints for in-class discussion (one student’s opposition to same-sex marriage in particular), and the instructor came in for heavy criticism. Marquette then suspended McAdams without due process and abruptly cancelled his classes for the next semester. It also publicly insinuated that McAdams violated its harassment policy and was a safety threat to the campus, despite a complete lack of proof for either charge. Marquette’s disregard of due process and its incredible denial that its campaign against McAdams’s tenure implicates free speech or academic freedom in any way should frighten anyone concerned about faculty rights. Indeed, if the university succeeds in removing McAdams, free speech and academic freedom will lose whatever meaning they had at Marquette.
The fact that a liberal website would post such an article underlines an important fact: among liberals, there is still a substantial number of old-style traditionalists who favor free speech and expression.

Unfortunately, they are becoming rarer, especially in universities, where the center of gravity increasingly shifts toward politically correct people who happily will shut up opinions of which the disapprove. Indeed, this whole business arose when one Philosophy instructor expressed the intention of doing just that.

Vocabulary of Suppression

Campus leftists have a whole verbal arsenal to use against speech they don’t like. They may call it “harassment.” Or “offensive.” Or “uncivil.” Or “hate speech.” Or “cyber bullying.” Or claim it creates a “hostile learning environment” or “hostile work environment.”

The simple message is “shut up.”

And the clear corollary is “we are going to punish you if you don’t shut up.”

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Monday, March 02, 2015

Do Black Lives Matter?

It’s not so clear that they do to the activists who use that slogan.

We are not entirely sure that “broken windows policing” is quite as effective as the hype suggests, but there is no question that it’s a policy promoted by people who really do believe that black lives matter.

Interestingly, it seems that rank and file black people (as opposed to the race hustling activists) favor such policing.

Consider, for example, a poll of black people in New York City, as reported by the leftist outlet The Root.
Despite the looming specter of police brutality, which casts shadows over street corners, neighborhoods and homes across black America, 56 percent of black voters in New York City support “broken windows” policing tactics, compared with 61 percent of the city’s white voters, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The controversial policing style frames community disorder and signs of neglect—such as broken windows, littering and loitering—as indicators of encroaching crime that will lead to more dangerous communities and must be addressed with the full force of the law.

In theory, broken-windows policing, and its variants stop-and-frisk, zero-tolerance and quality-of-life policing, are tactics used by officers who are hyperinvested in keeping communities safe, clean and crime-free. In practice, however, they provide opportunities for racial profiling and resulting antagonistic and abusive encounters between law enforcement and people of color.

Interestingly, when participants in the Quinnipiac poll were asked whether police officers should “actively issue summonses or make arrests for so-called quality of life offenses,” including selling small amounts of marijuana or making loud noise, 60 percent of black voters said yes, a negligible difference from the 59 percent of white voters who said the same.

“It’s different where you live from what you see in the media,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll. “Overall, black New Yorkers are negative about cops citywide. White voters are positive. But looking at cops in their own neighborhood, the support turns positive among black voters and heavily positive among whites.

“Does it improve the quality of life in your neighborhood when police arrest someone for a low-level offense, or does it increase neighborhood tensions? New Yorkers decide for quality of life,” Carroll added.
Contrary to the activist myth, black people don’t see the courts as excessively harsh on criminals. The following tabulation is from the National Opinion Research Center General Social Survey, combining polls from 2008 through 2012 (to get a reasonable number of black respondents).

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The numbers show that while blacks are a bit more likely than whites to say the courts are “too harsh” (27 percent as opposed to 10 percent for whites) a robust majority of blacks (56 percent) say the courts are “not harsh enough.” Another sixteen percent of blacks say the courts are “about right.”

Given that rank-and-file black people don’t seem to agree with the race hustlers, how do the politically correct types respond?

The Root went to one Arlene Eisen to provide a politically correct gloss on the findings.
“If [we are to] assume the study is reliable, then you have to ask, ‘What black people?’ Generally, more middle class and professional people will prioritize protecting property,” said Arlene Eisen, the author and primary researcher of Operation Ghetto Storm, a frequently quoted study on the extrajudicial killing of black people. “Then, you need to consider the level of political education of whoever responded to the survey. This includes what a lot of people call ‘internalized racism’—where black people learn a lot of the same views of themselves as whites. Unfortunately, there is very little in the education system and corporate media to counter the hegemonic status of white supremacy.”
Thus politically correct people always end up demeaning the people they are supposedly championing. “Those ignorant blacks,” she seems to be saying, “are anti-black racists too. They just aren’t educated enough to see what’s going on.”

To whom do black lives matter?

To rank-and-file black folks, yes. To people who favor strict law enforcement, yes. To the race hustlers who would rather have a political grievance than to protect black lives, no.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

A Message to Beheaded Christians

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is Marquette Finally Going to Tell the Truth About Campus Date Rape?

Sent out last fall by Marquette: a “Teal Poster” about sexual violence.

It touts the following statistics:
“1 in 5 women and 1 in 70 men will experience rape in their lifetime.”
(National Crime Victims Survey, 2007)
“7 out of 10 rape survivors knew their attacker.”
(National Crime Victims Survey, 2007)
“People between the ages of 18 to 24 experience the highest prevalence of stalking, sexual assault an dating violence.”
U.S. Department of Justice (Revised, 2012)
“1 in 4 Stalking victims are cyberstalked”
U.S. Bureau of Justice, 2009
What is missing? Bogus statistics about the incidence of campus date rape.

We have found that our students have been told that 20% of college women are victims of date rape. And indeed, one “training” module that was mandated for all University employees last fall used a somewhat scarier statistic, claiming that 25% of college women are victims of “some sort of sexual assault.”

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We called Susannah Bartlow, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, which was responsible for the poster. We wanted to ask her whether Marquette is backing off inflated claims about date rape.  We left voice mail, but she never got back to us.

Instead, Brian Dorrington, head public relations guy at Marquette, responded.

(It’s significant that nobody in the Provost’s office will talk to us, but rather gives Dorrington the task of framing an evasive response.)

Dorrington said:
Hi John,

Susannah Bartlow shared your inquiry with me and I’m writing to provide context. This year’s sexual violence prevention poster offers new information and statistics to expand the knowledge base of our university community on this important topic. The information from both posters is accurate and includes widely accepted statistics. We have worked diligently to educate our entire campus community about preventing sexual misconduct. This includes sexual violence prevention and bystander intervention during the past four years and mandatory training for all first-year students.
Dorrington, of course, has completely and entirely avoided our query, which was whether Marquette is backing off of the bogus statistics it has been giving students.  Perhaps he did not understand our query, or perhaps he simply was unwilling to admit that Marquette is backing off something it has been (falsely) telling students.

That colleges (following feminist activists) have been trafficking in bogus, grossly inflated statistics about date rape is not new information.

The first widely noticed article questioning inflated date rape statistics appeared in 1991, written by Berkeley professor Neil Gilbert.

And of course, we have repeatedly blogged on the issue.

Why Inflate the Problem?

The chronic inflation of the problem of sexual assault on campus is the result of the confluence of two forces.

The first is feminism, which casts men as the evil oppressor class. What better metaphor for male evil than the notion that lots of men are raping women. Indeed, why not go beyond that and say that all men are responsible for the prevalence of rape, or that a “rape culture” encompasses all men?

Thus, a certain R. Clifton Spargo from the English Department, in a campus program on sexual violence. . .
. . . rejected the notion that rape is “merely aberrant, deviant behavior,” and told the male members of the audience “you are living in the rape culture.” Where? “On Campus. In the bars.”
The other force is the interests of campus bureaucrats. Hyping “sexual violence” is a justification for programs, and initiatives, workshops, and indoctrination sessions. All which have the effect of inflating the budgets and staffs of campus bureaucrats.

There are a few things that students should be told about rape. The “Teal Poster” is pretty good in this regard. Women should be told that, if a victim of rape, they should not shower, not change their clothes, but go immediately to an Emergency Room. Women should be told to be careful about ever taking a drink if it might possibly contain a date rape drug.

And women ought to be strongly encouraged to report rape. The entire student body should encourage women to report rape and support those who do. This is more likely to happen if Marquette can (honestly) tell students that reports of rape will be dealt with in a sensitive and professional manner.

But it doesn’t help when Marquette makes stupid statements about rape.

This page, for example, says that a women has not consented to sex if she is “Giving in or going along with someone to gain approval.” A lot of women have sex to gain approval. A guy who makes his “approval” continent on getting sex is not a gentleman, but he’s not a rapist either (at least if that’s all he does).

Another stupid statement coming from Marquette was in the “training” module required of all employees and faculty. It flatly asserts that rape is “not about sex, it’s about power.” If that’s true, why is it “sexual assault” rather than “power assault?”

Check on Image to Enlarge
Another stupid statement is found in the “Teal Poster.” It tells students:
Consent. If you want to have sexual contact with someone, it is your responsibility to make sure they consent...enthusiastically!
No, grudging consent will do. A guy who gets only grudging consent from his date really ought to back off. But he’s not rapist if he fails to.

Making stupid statements about rape encourages students to blow off the “training” that Marquette offers as politically correct indoctrination, rather than good advice and information.

Marquette Compromised

Then there is the fact that Marquette is badly compromised in dealing with campus rape, having covered up two serious cases of sexual assault during the 2011 school year. Both were reported by the Chicago Tribune. Here is one report. And here is the other.


If Marquette is backing off of bogus claims about campus date rape, good. But it would be better if the University admitted that the numbers it has been giving students are badly inflated, and that a sober view of the situation requires good data.

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Governor Walker’s Son on Political Bias at Marquette

Matt Walker, son of Governor Scott Walker and a Marquette student, gave a fairly lengthy interview to Brietbart.com, and talked about his experiences at Marquette.

Two key issues where how he has been treated as the son of a governor whom most faculty voted against, and how much ideological bias he has encountered in his classes. Quoting the article:
“It always comes down to the professor in the end,” he said when asked if he’s treated fairly.
But one of the most surprising themes of my experience in college has been that political bias appears less in my political courses (as a political science and economics double major), but more so in classes like English, Philosophy, and other humanities.

In the beginning years of my time at Marquette, I don’t think most professors knew who I was. I don’t think too many professors treat me differently when they find out, but every now and then I’ll have a minor issue.
He said that conservatives and Republicans on college campuses who are aiming to fight back against liberal bias by leftist professors and academia figures should work to create bias reporting systems to expose any double standards they face.
This is consistent with our experience, and indeed with a lot of data on ideological bias in academia. Intolerant political correctness is most common in the humanities, and in some social sciences, especially sociology and some subfields in psychology. It’s less common in political science and much less common in economics.

Marquette’s Political Science Department, for example, leans heavily liberal, but there are conservative voices (including ours, which Marquette is trying to shut up), but most of what our liberal colleagues preach is “disciplinal:” more concerned with the theoretical constructs of political science than with raw liberal or conservative politics.

The humanities are very different, and several fiascoes in Marquette’s Philosophy Department are just the tip of the iceberg.

Humanities faculty, lacking any disciplined view of politics, simply give vent to their biases.

With this in mind, the recent move by Dean Rick Holz to water down the Arts & Sciences core curriculum may be a good thing. Students will be more free to pursue the subjects they want, with less burden of politically correct indoctrination in Marquette’s humanities departments.

But in any real “Catholic university” there would be a robust humanities requirement, and it would not consist of politically correct indoctrination.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Terrorism: Being Honest About the Enemy

From liberal New York Times columnist (not a Fox News pundit) Thomas Friedman, thoughts on the inability of the Obama White House to honestly discuss the nature of the terrorist threat.
I’ve never been a fan of global conferences to solve problems, but when I read that the Obama administration is organizing a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism for Feb. 18, in response to the Paris killings, I had a visceral reaction: Is there a box on my tax returns that I can check so my tax dollars won’t go to pay for this?

When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by Al Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq. We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.

Last week the conservative columnist Rich Lowry wrote an essay in Politico Magazine that contained quotes from White House spokesman Josh Earnest that I could not believe. I was sure they were made up. But I checked the transcript: 100 percent correct. I can’t say it better than Lowry did:

“The administration has lapsed into unselfconscious ridiculousness. Asked why the administration won’t say [after the Paris attacks] we are at war with radical Islam, Earnest on Tuesday explained the administration’s first concern ‘is accuracy. We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism, and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it.’

This makes it sound as if the Charlie Hebdo terrorists set out to commit a random act of violent extremism and only subsequently, when they realized that they needed some justification, did they reach for Islam.

The day before, Earnest had conceded that there are lists of recent ‘examples of individuals who have cited Islam as they’ve carried out acts of violence.’ Cited Islam? According to the Earnest theory ... purposeless violent extremists rummage through the scriptures of great faiths, looking for some verses to cite to support their mayhem and often happen to settle on the holy texts of Islam.”

President Obama knows better. I am all for restraint on the issue, and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community. It is coming mostly, but not exclusively, from angry young men and preachers on the fringe of the Sunni Arab and Pakistani communities in the Middle East and Europe.
Friedman then goes on to make an important distinction among Muslim communities.
Something else is also at work, and it needs to be discussed. It is the struggle within Arab and Pakistani Sunni Islam over whether and how to embrace modernity, pluralism and women’s rights. That struggle drives, and is driven by, the dysfunctionality of so many Arab states and Pakistan. It has left these societies with too many young men who have never held a job or a girl’s hand, who then seek to overcome their humiliation at being left behind, and to find identity, by “purifying” their worlds of other Muslims who are not sufficiently pious and of Westerners whom they perceive to be putting Muslims down. But you don’t see this in the two giant Muslim communities in Indonesia or India.
Friedman, in other words, is not keen to blame all of Islam for terrorism, but neither is he unwilling to honestly voice the problem.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Marquette Students Ignoring Climate Survey

An e-mail from Kimberly A. Newman, Executive Administrative Assistant in the Provost’s office:
The Climate Study Working Group seeks your help in getting more students to complete the Marquette University Climate Survey. As of today less than 10% of our undergraduate and graduate students have taken the time to complete the survey, falling short of what we need to get the pulse of students’ experiences and observations of life at Marquette. And with a new President and Provost, what information students provide will go far in setting priorities for the future of Marquette.
Faculty are then asked to encourage students to take the survey. Students should be assured, for example, that even if they are Freshmen and relatively new to campus their input is wanted. The survey only takes a few minutes. And further, students should be told “That by ‘climate’ survey, we are asking about what they’ve experienced and observed at Marquette and not their opinions about the weather.”

Good to get that cleared up.

Of course, if students were paying any attention, they would notice some questionable things about the enterprise. For example, Newman assures people:
All responses are anonymous. There will never be an analysis of the findings that might identify any individual who completes the survey, and safeguards have been taken to assure both confidentiality of information and anonymity of responses.
But then you have this:
Why do some demographic questions contain a large number of response options?

It is important in campus climate research for survey participants to “see” themselves in response choices to prevent “othering” an individual or an individual’s characteristics. Some researchers maintain that assigning someone to the status of “other” is a form of marginalization and should be minimized, particularly in a campus climate research that has an intended purpose of inclusiveness. Along these lines, survey respondents will see a long list of possible choices for many demographic questions. It is impossible reasonably to include every possible choice to every question, but the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose “other.”
So students who are asexual or of Croatian ancestry might get alienated if they don’t see that choice in the response categories offered.

But then you have this:
How is a respondent’s confidentiality protected?

Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research, particularly because sensitive and personal topics are discussed. Though the survey can’t guarantee complete anonymity because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the consultant will take multiple precautionary measures to ensure individual confidentiality and the deidentification of data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., Social Security Number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey….
That’s very reassuring.

But the fundamental problem with the survey is that we know perfectly well how it will turn out. The outside consultant who is doing it (one Dr. Susan Rankin) is in the business of making surveys turn out the way campus administrators want them to.

First, it will not be determined that the “campus climate” sucks for everybody. That would be bad publicity for Marquette. But it will be determined that there are “problems,” almost certainly problems for some politically correct group. It’s completely inconceivable that (say) devout Catholics will be found to face a “hostile climate” as their views are demeaned, or that males will be found to chafe under anti-male sexism from feminists.

These “problems” will need to be “addressed” by more programs, more mandatory “training,” and more “initiatives.” All of which will justify the budgets and staffing of various bureaucracies at Marquette.

The game is pretty transparent.  Except to administrators at Marquette, who probably believe their own rhetoric.


From a comment, information on the firm that is doing the survey. Is there any doubt that the “fix is in” as to how this survey will turn out?

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Marquette’s Sex Obsessed Climate Survey

Everybody at Marquette is encouraged to complete a “climate survey.”  At the beginning of the survey is a list of definitions of terms used in the survey.

Most of the definitions are sensible enough.   For example: “Disability: A physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities.”

But where sex is concerned, the list goes wild and defines all of the following:
  • Asexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of an individual.
  • Assigned Birth Sex: Refers to the assigning (naming) of the biological sex of a baby at birth.
  • Gender Identity: A person’s inner sense of being man, woman, both or neither. The internal identity may or may not be expressed outwardly and may or may not correspond to one’s physical characteristics.
  • Gender Expression: The manner in which a person outwardly represents gender, regardless of the physical characteristics that might typically define the individual as male or female.
  • Intersex: A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
  • Pansexual: A person who is fluid in sexual orientation and/or gender or sex identity.
  • Queer: An umbrella term for LGBT people that advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid.
  • Sexual Identity: Term that refers to the sex of the people one tends to be emotionally, physically and sexually attracted to; this is inclusive of, but not limited to, lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, heterosexual people and those who identify as queer.
  • Transgender: An umbrella term referring to those whose gender identity or gender expression (previously defined) is different from that traditionally associated with their sex assigned at birth (previously defined)].
This seems a bit silly, and for the most part, that’s what it is.

But it does reflect the obsession of the politically correct, especially among college bureaucrats, who slice and dice the population into the most narrow groups possible. Each group, of course, is supposed to have a list of grievances, and each group needs a bureaucrat in the Provost’s office or Student Affairs to cater to their grievances.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Reaction to Marquette’s Intention to Fire Marquette Warrior Blogger Comes Quickly

Less than three hours after our post detailing how Marquette University is going to try to fire us, a post on The Academe Blog. Four key paragraphs (but read the whole thing):
Holz’s letter declares: “faculty members have voiced concerns about how they could become targets in your blog based upon items they might choose to include in a class syllabus. Your conduct thus impairs the very freedoms of teaching and expression that you vehemently purport to promote. Again, the AAUP has called upon University governing boards and administration to exercise their ‘special duty not only to set an outstanding example of tolerance, but also to challenge boldly and condemn immediately serious breaches of civility.’”

This is a complete distortion of the AAUP’s statements. Tolerance requires that a university not fire professors for their expression. Marquette is perfectly free to condemn McAdams for an alleged breach of civility, but not to punish him. And although some faculty might legitimately fear being criticized by McAdams, no one has a right to be free from criticism, or to punish McAdams for their own decision to self-censor.

Holz’s letter emphasizes one section of Marquette’s statement on academic freedom, that a professor “should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others.” The AAUP has made clear that its statement that professors “should” be accurate is moral exhortation, not an enforceable standard for punishment. Obviously, if any professor could be fired for any kind of alleged inaccuracy in any sentence, public or private, then tenure would be meaningless.

Marquette’s policy on academic freedom also declares about a professor, “When he/she speaks or writes as a citizen, he/she should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.” Marquette cannot invoke a distorted interpretation of its academic freedom policy to justify firing a professor and then ignore the clear prohibition on doing so in the same policy.

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Marquette to Warrior Blogger: We’re Going to Fire You

On November 9 of last year, we published a post detailing how a student in a Philosophy class confronted the instructor after class. He was disappointed that she quickly passed over the issue of gay marriage in class, since the student wanted to argue against the policy. The instructor told the student that he was not allowed to make “homophobic” comments in class, and further that if he was allowed to argue against gay marriage, that would “offend” any gay students in class.

The post created a firestorm of controversy. First, people appalled that an instructor’s actions weighed in, and then leftist academics who felt we had been unfair to the instructor (one Cheryl Abbate) mobilized to attack us.

Marquette’s administration (most prominently Arts & Sciences Dean Richard Holz) sided with our attackers, and suspended us in December. So it was no particular surprise when, last Friday, our lawyer received a letter from Holz – addressed to us – saying:
Therefore, in accord with Section 307.03, we are commencing as of this date the procedures for revoking your tenure and dismissing you from the faculty.
Hotz’ irate letter, which can be found here, is full of poor arguments and factual misstatements.


First, Holz claimed our blog post was “inaccurate.” He rested this claim on two arguments.
. . . by leaving out any reference to Ms. Abbate’s follow-up class discussion in which she acknowledged and addressed the student’s objection to gay marriage, you created a false impression of her conduct and an inaccurate account of what occurred.
According to Holz, in the follow–up discussion she attacked a study claiming that children of gay parents do poorly, and claimed that she declined to discuss the subject because of a lack of class time. Unfortunately, that’s not what she said to the student in the original after class confrontation.

What Abbate said in the class after the after-class confrontation with the student can’t make what she said to the student go away.

Holz includes a complete transcript of that exchange, and it shows Abbate saying exactly what we represented her as saying.

Holz also accuses us of “inaccurate” reporting of the student’s interaction with Philosophy Department Chair Nancy Snow. He recounts two meetings with Snow, and considerable back and forth as to whether the student could transfer to another section or drop the course. Thus Holz claims we were “inaccurate” when we said the student was essentially “blown off.”

But the student wanted something else. The College Fix, which interviewed him explained:
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. The student got no such assurances, and no admission from Marquette that the instructor should have handled the issue differently.
Holz implies the student actually dropped the class because he was making a poor grade. But in fact, before he came to us or anybody else, the student went to a personal adviser and complained about the after-class exchange with Abbate. He also complained about it to Nancy Snow and to Sebastian Luft (Assistant Chair in Philosophy). The exchange with Abbate was indeed what provoked him to want to drop the class.

Other Avenues?

Holtz continued:
Multiple internal avenues of review were available to you if you believed a situation had occurred between a graduate student instructor and an undergraduate student that called for a corrective response.
The assumption here seems to be that we should have kept the whole thing quiet, and sought redress for the student from the Marquette administration.

In the first place, the student had tried that, and got no redress (other than being allowed to drop the class).

Secondly, blogging is journalism, and it’s simply not standard journalistic practice to quietly try to right a wrong by appealing to officials to fix the situation. If an issue is of public interest, it is reported.

Holz attacks us for not asking for comment from Nancy Snow, or from the Dean’s office. But both would have doubtless invoked “confidentiality.” When The College Fix asked Snow for comment, she failed to respond.

We did write Abbate, asking for her account of the after-class confrontation. She failed to respond. (Holz includes our e-mail in his letter.) But given that the student had made recording of the exchange, there was never any doubt as to what occurred.

Holz and Journalism

Holz makes an argument that would strike any journalist and quite odd.
While you left the undergraduate student’s name out of your post, and later insisted that his anonymity be protected, you posted without permission the graduate student instructor’s name, Ms. Cheryl Abbate.
. . . and:
You posted this story on the Internet . . . without speaking with Ms. Abbate or getting her permission to use her name. . . .
We left the undergraduate’s name out of the post because he was our source, and gave us the information on the condition that we keep his name confidential. That’s Journalism 101.

Somehow, Holz thinks that when a journalist reports questionable conduct on the part of an individual, that individual has the right to veto being identified. That notion would flunk Journalism 101.

Picking on a Student?

Holz attacks us for blogging about a graduate student instructor, saying:
As applied in the current case, it is vital for our university and our profession that graduate student instructors learn their craft as teachers of sometimes challenging and difficult students. Great teachers develop over time; many benefit from experienced mentors who share hard-earned insights. Thus, graduate student instructors should expect appropriate and constructive feedback in order to improve their teaching skills.
The problem with this argument is that we had no opportunity to “mentor” the instructor, who was in the Philosophy Department. We had no teacher/student relationship. The people who should have mentored her (the Philosophy faculty) apparently failed to do so.

Further, she was not functioning as a “student,” but as a faculty member. As one of our colleagues (who doubtless would not want to be identified) observed:
[D]id Ms. Abbate have full authority of a faculty member to lecture, assign readings, moderate class discussion, assign and grade papers, write and grade tests, and assign final grades? If so, why would a graduate student instructor be insulated from all criticism for anything they may do as an instructor with full faculty authority? Yes, the graduate student instructor is a student, but if they are given full faculty authority, then they should be open to criticism of their conduct as a faculty instructor. In short, I don’t think the university can have it both ways.


Holz claimed that our blog post impedes Abbate’s ability to find an academic job, and even said “you gloated that your conduct would negatively impact Ms. Abbate’s opportunities in the future:”

The quote he describes as “gloating” is as follows:
Does our blog post harm Abbate, for example making it harder for her to get an academic job?

If there are some colleges out there who don’t want instructors who tell students that opposition to gay marriage is homophobic, Abbate might not get hired there. That is appropriate. We feel no obligation to suppress information to help her get a job.
Holz, however, failed to quote our next sentence:
But of course, in an increasingly politically correct philosophy profession, hiring in a lot of departments is dominated by people who think pretty much as Abbate does.
Further, Abbate hasn’t concealed her political opinions. On her blog, Thoughts from a Vegan-Feminist-Philosopher, she posted an essay about how “All Men Contribute to the Prevalence of Rape.”

Holz blames us for nasty e-mails that Abbate received after our post went viral and was picked up by several other outlets. We, in the wake of the post, got a variety of nasty e-mails too. All this is deplorable. But never before, in our ten years of blogging, have we gotten reports of offensive e-mails received by people whom we blogged about. It may have happened, but we never heard of it.

But Holz, instead of blaming the people who actually sent the nasty e-mails, blames us.

Abbate has apparently now left Marquette to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Colorado. Colorado ranks among the top 40 Philosophy Ph.D. Departments in the country. Where does Marquette rank? Barely in the top 100.

Publishing Student Names

Holz continues:
You have been asked, advised, and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts.
This is simply untrue. Only once did any university official (Provost John Pauly) tell us not to make any blog posts about students. (Actually, he said it was fine to commend students, but we should not criticize student activities – essentially demanding biased journalism.)

We blogged about this, and made it clear to Pauly that he had no right to tell us what to blog about. This was in 2011, and we continued to blog about student activities. Pauly let us alone, which we interpreted as meaning that he knew he had no authority to censor our blog.

Holz cited another case, but mangled the details:
In March 2008, you published the name of a student who worked in advertising for the Marquette Tribune after she had declined to run an advertisement highlighting alleged risks from the “morning after” pill. Only after that student contacted you to advise of the impacts upon her and to request you to cease and desist did you delete her name.
In fact, if we recall correctly, it was a faculty member who contacted us, soon after the post went up (nobody in the Communications School or at the Tribune responded to our earlier inquiries). She convinced us that the student in question was not in fact responsible for the failure of the Tribune to run the ad (contrary to what we had been told by Wisconsin Right to Life), and we were happy to delete the student’s name.

But the issue was not “mentioning students’ names,” it was the actions of this particular student.  Nobody told us we could “not mention student names” in this case.

Interestingly, this past fall, Holz explicitly told us that one of our posts that mentioned two students’ names was not an issue. We had been summoned to his office on the basis of a student complaint which he would not explain. (It turned out that the president of the Palestinian Student Association claimed to feel “intimidated” when we tried to interview him about “Israeli Apartheid Week” which his organization, and three offices at Marquette, sponsored.)

We asked Holz whether the meeting was about a post we had made regarding a meeting between Marquette officials and a student group who wanted to boycott Palermo’s Pizza. We sent him the link to the post. He replied that it was “not the issue.”

So a post where we named two student activists was not an “issue.” But then all of a sudden a post naming a student instructor becomes the issue when Marquette wants to get rid of a professor who causes controversy.

Value to Marquette

In the first paragraph, Holz asserted:
As detailed below and in my letter of January 2, 2015, your conduct clearly and substantially fails to meet the standards of personal and professional excellence that generally characterizes University faculties. As a result, your value to this academic institution is substantially impaired.
If academic freedom is dependent on administrators’ judgments of the “value” of a faculty member, notions of academic freedom are meaningless.

Campus bureaucrats hate controversy, since it makes trouble for them. Thus the most “valuable” faculty members are the ones who avoid controversy, and especially avoid criticizing administrators.

In real universities, administrators understand (or more likely grudgingly accept) that faculty will say controversial things, will criticize them and each other, and that people will complain about it. They understand that putting up with the complaints is part of the job, and assuaging those who complain the loudest is not the best policy.

That sort of university is becoming rarer and rarer. Based on Holz’ actions, Marquette is certainly not such a place.

[Update   in response to some questions:  we will indeed fight this.  We have excellent legal counsel, and most certainly will not go quietly.]

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Another Academic Freedom Group Weighs In on Marquette’s Attack on the Warrior Blog

January 30, 2015

President Michael R. Lovell
Marquette University
Zilber Hall 441
1250 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233

Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (414-288-3161)

Dear President Lovell:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, academic freedom, due process, freedom of speech, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses. Our website, thefire.org, will give you a greater sense of our identity and activities.

FIRE is deeply concerned by Marquette University’s suspension of Professor John McAdams, whom the university has banned from campus and whose classes have been unilaterally and punitively cancelled on the basis of opinions expressed on his blog. Marquette has repeatedly ignored its own policies governing faculty speech and due process, and has severely imperiled free speech and academic freedom through its unjust actions. We call on the university to promptly restore McAdams’s full privileges as a tenured faculty member and to reaffirm its commitment to freedom of expression before the university’s reputation is further damaged.

The following is our understanding of the facts. Please inform us if you believe we are in error. Since 2002, political science professor John McAdams has published the Marquette Warrior blog, in which he expresses personal views that are often outspoken and critical of university affairs. In an entry dated November 9, 2014, McAdams drew attention to an undergraduate student’s recorded interaction with Cheryl Abbate, the student’s instructor in a “Theory of Ethics” course; Abbate was at the time also a Ph.D. student in Marquette’s Department of Philosophy. In this interaction, recorded following the end of class, Abbate expressed her opinion to the student that it was inappropriate to voice opinions opposing same-sex marriage in class. McAdams wrote in this entry, describing the encounter:
Abbate explained that “some opinions are not appropriate, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions” and then went on to ask “do you know if anyone in your class is homosexual?” And further “don’t you think it would be offensive to them” if some student raised his hand and challenged gay marriage? The point being, apparently that any gay classmates should not be subjected to hearing any disagreement with their presumed policy views.

[. . .]

She went on “In this class, homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated.” She then invited the student to drop the class.
McAdams further noted that the undergraduate student’s attempt to raise his concerns with the philosophy department was unsuccessful.

McAdams’s November 9 entry received widespread attention, with various persons defending or criticizing both McAdams’s and Abbate’s positions. In the weeks following this initial post, McAdams publicly defended his writing on the issue, highlighted media attention garnered by the controversy, and disputed criticisms directed at him by other faculty.

On December 16, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Dean Richard C. Holz informed McAdams of the following in a letter:
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.
McAdams was prohibited from entering the Marquette campus while suspended except with permission from the university. McAdams requested that Holz provide specific charges to justify his suspension via email on December 16; Holz did not respond to this email.

Though McAdams had not been presented with any formal charges, Marquette cancelled both of his scheduled courses for the current semester, informing students in emails sent December 18.

While Holz did not inform McAdams of any suspected policy violations, he provided McAdams with a copy of Marquette’s harassment policy, suggesting that Marquette was investigating McAdams for violating this particular policy. On December 17, Marquette released a statement on its suspension of McAdams, publicly insinuating that he was suspected of violating Marquette’s harassment policy. The statement read in part:
Our president has been very clear, including in a recent campus-wide letter, about university expectations and Guiding Values to which all faculty and staff are required to adhere, and in which the dignity and worth of each member of our community is respected, especially students.

[. . .]

Lovell noted that Marquette listens to any member of the campus community who expresses concerns alleging inappropriate behavior. As stated in our harassment policy, the university will not tolerate personal attacks or harassment of or by students, faculty and staff.

“To be clear, we will take action to address those concerns.” he said. “We deplore hatred and abuse directed at a member of our community in any format.”

[Emphasis added.]
On December 22, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) wrote to Marquette on McAdams’s behalf, arguing that Marquette, by declining to provide any alleged policy violations committed by McAdams or specifying precisely what conduct merited his suspension, violated McAdams’s rights as a faculty member. WILL further argued that McAdams had not committed any policy violations and that his suspension was wrongfully imposed.

Holz elaborated on Marquette’s position in a January 2 letter to McAdams, in which he took the position—while still not specifying any alleged policy violations—that McAdams had impermissibly used Abbate’s name in his Marquette Warrior posts. Holz told McAdams he “had no justification to put our graduate student’s name in [his] internet posts” and referred to his decision to do so as “dishonorable and irresponsible.” Holz further wrote that Abbate had subsequently received threatening letters and emails, and that Marquette had placed a security officer outside her classroom as a result. Abbate transferred to a graduate program at another university shortly thereafter. Holz referred to this entire sequence of events as “plainly foreseeable.”

Though Abbate is apparently no longer at Marquette, McAdams remains suspended by the university, prohibited from teaching and from entering the campus except with Marquette’s advance permission. Marquette, meanwhile, has framed McAdams’s suspension as justified by the need to protect students’ physical safety and has continued to publicly suggest that McAdams is being investigated under Marquette’s harassment policy. A January 12, 2015, Fox6Now article, for instance, carried a statement from Marquette stating in part:
The safety of our students and campus community is our top priority. The university has a policy in which it clearly states that it does not tolerate harassment and will not stand for faculty members subjecting students to any form of abuse, putting them in harm’s way. We take any situation where a student’s safety is compromised extremely seriously.
Professor McAdams’s suspension is an affront to faculty due process rights, in brazen disregard of Marquette’s established, written policies. This suspension also raises serious concerns for free speech and academic freedom at Marquette, with deeply chilling implications for all faculty. We urge Marquette to promptly restore McAdams’s campus and teaching privileges in light of its serious and numerous failures to respect his rights in this matter.

We note first the duplicity with which Marquette has publicly presented its suspension of McAdams. In a December 18, 2014, article, Marquette spokesperson Brian Dorrington told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that McAdams was “under review” as opposed to having been suspended for cause, and claimed, “Our definition of suspension is without pay.” This is transparently false by any plain reading of Marquette’s faculty policies. Section 307.02 of Marquette’s Faculty Handbook states, for instance:
In all cases of nonrenewal, suspension, or termination for absolute or discretionary cause (except resignation), a faculty member’s entitlement to salary and fringe benefits shall continue, irrespective of any suspension from duties:

(1) for a period of at least thirty days after the cause arises;
Further, Marquette’s faculty policies recognize no such disciplinary category as “under review.” In effect, Marquette has invented a new category of discipline to suit its public needs in this particular instance, while ignoring the procedures it does maintain. Section 307.3 of the Faculty Handbook states, for instance, that any notice of suspension should 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.

[Emphases added.]
Holz’s December 16 suspension notice to McAdams satisfied neither of these requirements. It outlined no specific charges against McAdams, only suggesting (by enclosing a copy of the policy) that Marquette was investigating him for violating its harassment policy. Likewise, it did not provide McAdams with any indication of what action the university was contemplating beyond the suspension, or any timeline as to when its review of his conduct would be completed. Holz’s January 2 follow-up letter to McAdams, while providing more detail on the substance of McAdams’s alleged conduct violations, nonetheless failed again to outline any specific charges or detail the planned course of its investigation—it provided nothing more than a rudimentary notification that his conduct was still being “reviewed.”

Marquette’s rationale for suspending McAdams, cancelling his classes, and banning him from entering the Marquette campus appears to be based on the questionable assertion that publicly identifying a graduate student as a course’s instructor in the midst of disputing and criticizing her statements to a student violated Marquette policy in some way. Yet no Marquette policy explicitly shields graduate student instructors from criticism by faculty, nor do generally accepted precepts of academic freedom. In fact, Marquette’s academic freedom promises seem to explicitly forbid taking such action against McAdams. We note that section 306.03 of the Faculty Handbook—concerning “Cause for Nonrenewal, Suspension, Termination”—states:
In no case, however, shall discretionary 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.
This warning should carry particular weight in light of McAdams’s original concern that sparked this incident in the first place: The quality of liberal education diminishes if certain opinions are deemed unwelcome in the classroom simply because they may prove subjectively hurtful to some people. Indeed, the issue of whether overly sensitive campus environments or overly broad university policies have the effect of inhibiting discussion on matters of public interest is a concern McAdams has written about previously,1 and one with implications for the Supreme Court’s long-cherished holding that the college environment is “peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas.’” Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 180 (1972).

If criticism of the ideas proposed, and pedagogical choices made, by fellow instructors in this context are not protected by Marquette’s seemingly robust promises of academic freedom, then it is not clear what is. While in its public statements Marquette professes that “all of our graduate student teaching assistants are students first,” the fact is that teaching and its associated public responsibilities are a pillar of doctoral studies and that they inevitably introduce the possibility of having one’s teaching methods critiqued, perhaps publicly. Of course, graduate instructors in such positions enjoy the same rights of

1 John McAdams, Marquette’s Bizarre Training on “Harassment”, MARQUETTE WARRIOR, September 21, 2014, http://mu-warrior.blogspot.com/2014/09/marquettes-bizarre-training-on.html.

free speech and academic freedom to defend their ideas and pedagogical choices against such criticisms as their faculty peers.

Marquette’s repeated and damaging public insinuations that McAdams has violated its harassment policy are also deeply problematic, given the policy’s definition:
Harassment is defined as verbal, written or physical conduct directed at a person or a group … where the offensive behavior is intimidating, hostile or demeaning or could or does result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or harm.

[. . .]

Harassment includes not only offensive behavior that interferes with a person’s or group’s well-being or development, but also such behaviors that interfere with one’s employment, educational status, performance, or that create a hostile working, academic or social environment.
McAdams has committed no such harassment. Furthermore, there is no right to be free from all subjective feelings of “discomfort,” “embarrassment,” or “ridicule” that may result from others’ comments, a fact of which Marquette seems aware. Dorrington acknowledges in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for example, that “[u]nder faculty conduct rules, a professor cannot be relieved of teaching duties for voicing an opinion about whether a potentially controversial offensive subject should be allowed by a TA to be discussed in class.” But it is clear that Marquette seeks to hold McAdams accountable not only for his own remarks but also for those of third-party individuals who contacted Abbate after reading his blog, despite the fact that McAdams had no control whatsoever over their actions. Our basic traditions of free speech thoroughly reject this imposition of vicarious responsibility on the speaker in all but the narrowest of circumstances. With the exception of incitement, which the Supreme Court held in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969) must be “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and must be “likely to incite or produce such action,” speakers are not responsible for the actions taken by listeners in response to their protected speech. If they were, speech would cease to be free in any meaningful form, and what is left of our discourse would be awash with perverse incentives to censor individuals by distorting and weaponizing their messages to suit malicious ends.

We further note that more recently, Marquette has publicly justified McAdams’s extended banishment from campus by referring to “[t]he safety of our students and campus community”—a wholly unfounded and insulting implication that McAdams is a physical threat to campus safety. To put Marquette’s error into full relief, the Supreme Court has defined “true threats” as “those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.” Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343, 359 (2003).

Just as McAdams’s expression does not come close to crossing the threshold into harassment, it does not come close to crossing the threshold into true threats, either as a matter of common sense or as legally defined by the Supreme Court. McAdams himself did not express any intent to commit any act at all, let alone an act of unlawful violence. Whatever legitimate threats to Abbate’s safety existed were entirely the doing of third-party individuals over whom McAdams had no control. While Marquette bears the duty to ensure safety in the face of such threats, McAdams is not responsible for the conduct of those making illegal threats against an instructor’s safety simply because they read his blog before making the threats. Further, any claim—now that Abbate has transferred from Marquette—that McAdams remains a general threat to campus safety is baseless.

Marquette has not provided a single piece of evidence to suggest that McAdams is guilty of anything other than exercising his own right to free expression through his blog—for which he has now been banned from the Marquette campus for six weeks and forced to forfeit an entire semester of teaching.

Marquette has totally disregarded John McAdams’s due process and free speech rights throughout this case. Its actions have deeply chilling implications for academic freedom. As the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty put it in its December 22 letter, “If Dr. McAdams’ reporting of a fact about a Marquette instructor’s conduct and offering his opinion on that fact are grounds for punishment, then academic discourse would dissolve in the face of a war of all against all.” Marquette’s unjust course of action requires no less than the immediate end of McAdams’s suspension and banishment from the Marquette campus, and his return to teaching as soon as possible. We hope that Marquette will not risk further damaging its public standing with this misguided and chilling attack on faculty rights.

We request a response to this letter by February 13, 2015.


Peter Bonilla
Director, Individual Rights Defense Program

Margaret Faut Callahan, Interim Provost
Richard C. Holz, Dean, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Campus Free Speech Advocate On Marquette’s Attack on Warrior Blog

Donald Downs, a Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is one of the most important academics (and perhaps the most important academic) defending freedom of speech and expression on the university campus. Thus it’s no surprise when he weighs in on Marquette’s attempt to punish The Marquette Warrior for a blog post.
Donald A. Downs
Department of Political Science
303 North Hall
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI 53706

January 27, 2015

Dr. Michael R. Lovell
President, Marquette University
1250 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Dear President Lovell:

I am writing to express my concern about how Marquette University has handled the case of Professor John McAdams. As of this writing, Professor McAdams remains suspended, which entails being barred from campus and prohibited from interacting with any students. These are substantial penalties that typically are reserved for the most severe cases.

My main concern in the case is very straightforward. As others around the country have publicly expressed, the due process aspects of the case have been very problematic from the start. In mid-December, when the University took its first actions in the case, Professor McAdams was not adequately informed of the charges against him, as the letter from his attorneys (made public) makes evident. Contrary to Marquette’s own rules, the letter addressed to Professor McAdams did not provide notice of what conduct had been violated, nor did it specify what procedures would be followed.

When the University finally made the offending conduct known, it stated the problem was Professor McAdams’ blog commentary criticizing an instructor’s comments to a student, in particular the teacher’s decision to not allow discussion regarding the pros and cons of gay marriage in class on the grounds that such discussion could constitute a form of homophobic harassment. A tape the student made of his post-class conversation with the teacher supports the interpretation of the teacher’s reasoning that Professor McAdams posted on his blog. But it was not until later that Dean Holz finally wrote a letter to Professor McAdams articulating this basis for the University’s action.

More importantly, the severe temporary sanction applied to Professor McAdams—being banned from campus and not allowed to teach—was issued even before an adequate review of the case was carried through. According to generally understood standards governing discipline in higher education (standards that are reflected in Marquette’s own rules), such “severe” sanctions are allowable, but only after the fundamental norms of due process have been conscientiously been adhered to. The Policy Statements and Reports of the American Association of University Professors constitute the most authoritative standards regarding what could be called “common law” for the profession of higher education. The following AAUP statement on suspensions captures the essence of my present concern in respect to due process in this case:
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. (AAUP: Policy Documents & Reports, 1990 Edition, p. 27)
Based on my own observations and research germane to the practices of higher educational institutions, the sanction Marquette has imposed upon Professor McAdams is remarkable in this context. Suspension based on the facts in Professor McAdams’ case is exceptionally severe under the circumstances, especially given the lack of due process that appears to have accompanied the decision. The AAUP’s position is similar to this assessment:
an administration also may suspend a faculty member pending a dismissal hearing, but only if immediate harm to the faculty member or others is threatened by continuance. Before suspending a faculty member, pending an ultimate determination of the faculty member’s status through the institution’s hearing procedures, the administration will consult with the Faculty Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure [or whatever other title it may have] concerning the propriety, the length, and the other conditions of the suspension. A suspension that is intended to be final is a dismissal and will be treated as such. (AAUP, 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings)
Some critics have disapproved of the manner in which the student surreptitiously recorded his conversation with the teacher. And, of course, genuine and strong disapproval is merited regarding the threatening emails some very misguided individuals have sent to the instructor in the wake of Professor McAdams’ disclosure of the conversation. I share such disapproval. But three facts should be noted in relation to these critiques. First, Professor McAdams had no hand in making this recording. Second, to my knowledge he has made no threats of any kind to the instructor or to anyone else. Third, the topic addressed in Professor McAdams’ blog commentary addresses an important issue in higher education today: the status of intellectual diversity and free thought on campus. Numerous supporters and practitioners of higher education have expressed serious misgivings about the way in which improperly expansive harassment policies can stifle free discussion of sensitive intellectual and moral topics. Professor McAdams’ critique in this case dealt with this important concern.

I sincerely hope that the suspension of Professor McAdams is in no way related to the fact that he has publicly criticized the way the University has dealt with harassment training and free thought on campus. Unfortunately, the severity of the punishment, in conjunction with the due process problems associated with the infliction of this sanction, raise questions in this regard.

With all due respect, I urge you and the University to take the concerns others and I have raised into genuine consideration.


Donald A. Downs
Alexander Meiklejohn Professor of Political Science
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Marquette Attack on Warrior Blog: AAUP Weighs In

1133 19th Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036
January 26, 2015

Dr. Michael R. Lovell President
Marquette University
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881

Dear President Lovell:

Dr. John McAdams, associate professor of political science at Marquette University, has sought the assistance of the American Association of University Professors as a result of having been informed, by letter of December 16, 2014, that the university was suspending him with pay “until further notice” from his teaching responsibilities "and all other faculty activities" and banning him from campus. The letter, from Dr. Richard C. Holz, dean of the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, stated, without further elaboration, that the suspension was pending a review of his “conduct.”

Responding by letter of December 22, Professor McAdams’s attorney stated that the university had not followed its own regulations governing suspension of a faculty member-in particular, that the university must provide the faculty member with notice of cause for a suspension-and that Professor McAdams had done nothing to warrant this sanction.

Dean Holz replied by letter of January 2 with an explanation of the grounds for the suspension: “Your recent actions in publicizing on the internet the name of our now-former graduate student . . . require University review.” In a November 9 post in his blog, “Marquette Warrior,” Professor McAdams had criticized a graduate teaching assistant for telling one of her students in a private conversation, surreptitiously recorded by the student, that she would not tolerate expressions of opposition to gay marriage in her classroom. Dean Holz charged that, because of Professor McAdams’s “unilateral, dishonorable, and irresponsible decision to publicize” her name, the teaching assistant had “received a series of hate-filled and despicable emails” which caused her to fear for her safety and, eventually, to transfer to another university. “You have been asked, advised, and warned not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts,” the dean wrote. “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. . . . Accordingly, we are continuing our review of your conduct and considering all appropriate responses.”

Professor McAdams’s attorney replied to Dean Holz’s letter in a January 21 letter addressed to university counsel. He defended the propriety of Professor McAdams’s conduct, asserted that it was protected by academic freedom, and called “preposterous” a recent statement by a university

January 26, 2015 Page 2

spokesperson that Professor McAdams’s suspension and banishment from campus was necessitated by concern for the “safety” of students. The attorney also noted that the terms “dishonorable” and “irresponsible” employed by the dean to characterize Professor McAdams’s conduct are both to be found among grounds for dismissal for cause in Section 306.03 of the Faculty Statutes.

We understand that, as of this writing, Professor McAdams’s suspension remains in effect and that the administration has given no indication of when it will end.

As you are doubtless aware, our Association’s interest in the case of Professor McAdams stems from its commitment to fundamental tenets of academic freedom, tenure, and due process articulated in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. That document was jointly formulated by the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities and has been endorsed by more than 240 scholarly groups and higher-education organizations. On suspension, see the complementary joint 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings. Derivative procedural standards are set forth in the AAUP’s Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The three documents are enclosed for your convenience.

A faculty member’s suspension for a definite time from his or her primary responsibilities is on occasion imposed as a severe sanction, second only to dismissal, following a faculty hearing on stated cause. Under the 1958 Statement, amplified as follows in Regulation 5(a) of the Recommended Institutional Regulations, an administration also may suspend a faculty member pending a dismissal hearing, but
only if immediate harm to the faculty member or others is threatened by continuance. Before suspending a faculty member, pending an ultimate determination of the faculty member’s status through the institution’s hearing procedures, the administration will consult with the Faculty Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure [or whatever other title it may have] concerning the propriety, the length, and the other conditions of the suspension. A suspension that is intended to be final is a dismissal and will be treated as such.
Given the facts reported to us, it is difficult to see how members of the academic community would perceive Professor McAdams’s continuing to teach as constituting a “threat of immediate harm” to himself or others. Nor are we aware of the administration’s having consulted a duly constituted faculty body at Marquette University about the propriety of the suspension or its conditions.

The information in our possession concerning the case of Professor McAdams has come to us primarily from him, and we appreciate that you may have other information that would contribute to our understanding of what has occurred. We would therefore welcome your comments. Assuming the essential accuracy of the foregoing account, we would urge you to reach an arrangement with Professor McAdams which will return him to his teaching responsibilities rather than to allow his suspension to linger on indefinitely, an untenable situation that assumes the

January 26, 2015 Page 3

characteristics of a summary dismissal. The alternative, which we suspect neither you nor Professor McAdams would prefer, would be for the administration to attempt to demonstrate adequate cause for Professor McAdams’s dismissal, following procedures-such as those incorporated in Section 301.07 of the Faculty Statutes-that comport with AAUP-recommended standards.

We look forward to your response.


Gregory F. Scholtz
Associate Secretary and Director
Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance Enclosures (via electronic mail)
Cc: Dr. Richard C. Holz, Dean, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences
Professor Timothy Melchert, Chair, Academic Senate
Professor John McAdams
A scan of the actual hard copy letter can be found here.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Debunking 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 e-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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