Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Dental Blogger Still an Issue

The issue of the Dental School blogger who was slapped with a severe punishment (since reduced by the Dental School Dean) for some comments made on his blog, continues to reverberate.
  • A factual story by Brittany Clement appeared on the Tribune on January 17.
  • An opinion piece by Thomas Gunther McNamara conceded that Marquette has the right to limit expression, but says that “suppression of speech is essentially fascist in nature.”
  • The Tribune published a sarcastic editorial were the blogger “apologizes” as follows:
    I apologize for exercising my free speech rights outside of school grounds. I acknowledge that I represent the university at all times and places and that I have no freedom to criticize it at any moment lest I should launch another administrative fit.
  • Fr. Wild sent a letter to student government endorsing student free expression, but fudging on the Dental School case because of “special factors involved.”
  • An article in The Warrior discusses the issue, acknowledging that Marquette has the legal right to censor students, but notes that “the school’s willingness to exercise its legal right in such a manner may not go uncontested.”
And finally, there was one dissenter. Robert Karczewski, an Adjunct Professor in the Dental School, seemed to come down against the student, and in favor of the administration in a Tribune Op-Ed piece.
“Ethics”: A principle of right or good conduct. A system of moral values.

Ethical behavior, moral character and respect for our fellowman have been the hallmark of our society since the founding of our nation. It is very unfortunate however, that these characteristics have been severely eroded over many years. Marquette University has held firm to these principles in its effort to strive for excellence and service to others. It is a shame however, that some students and some faculty have used the First Amendment to justify saying publicly what ever they want, whenever they want, about their institution or fellow man; regardless of how much it hurts them either physically or emotionally.

Dentistry has always prided itself in being held in great respect for these values by the general public. It has always been given high marks for honesty, integrity and ability by the people we serve, more so than any other profession.

Our dental school tries to instill in its students these most important characteristics and hold them to a higher standard of integrity and ethics that are necessary to continue to serve the respect of the public.

It is too bad that Marquette University, and its dental school in particular, has gotten such a black eye and has suffered so much bad press over this last incident of immature behavior. In the future I would hope that students and faculty alike would reexamine their conscience and “do unto others as you want them to do unto you.”
Nice that he invokes the Golden Rule. But if he were a Dental School student, and he made an imprudent (but basically harmless) comment, would he want a draconian punishment? Or would he want a low-key talking to by a Dean or faculty member — maybe some fatherly good advice?

As for a “higher standard of integrity and ethics:” Does the rest of the University have a lower standard because blogs like this one and student blogs like GOP3.COM, Campus Tavern and Eminent Domain get to criticize the University in pretty bald terms?

Or does the rest of the university have a higher standard of tolerance?

Who is more guilty of “immature behavior?” A kid in his early 20s, or Dental School administrators who are much older and supposed have their jobs because of their mature judgment?

And if one should never say anything that “hurts” somebody, how is misbehavior on the part of officials, in either the public or the private sector, to be dealt with? Should there be a conspiracy of silence so that nobody is “hurt?”

We certainly want high standards from Marquette Dental students. We want them to be both technically proficient and ethical. But we don’t get bent out of shape about an occasional imprudent remark.

Given that the Dental School administration apparently does, we have to wonder whether they are sufficiently concerned about the “high standards” that really matter.


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