Marquette Warrior Blogger Harassed by Provost John Pauly
Pauly was the key figure behind the attempt to hire activist lesbian dean candidate Jodi O’Brien. But even worse is the fact that Pauly initiated a policy of putting more classes at 8:00 a.m. This was vastly unpopular with both students and faculty, but Pauly claimed that was necessary to better utilize Marquette’s physical plant, and claimed that the choice was between offering more 8:00 a.m. classes and building new buildings.
We showed that this claim was bogus. A little research turned up the fact that there were plenty of classrooms available at 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and this without any pressure to move classes to 8:00 a.m.
When our blog post circulated around the campus, Pauly simply doubled down on his plan, producing a PowerPoint presentation that supposedly showed our data were wrong, and surreptitiously showed it to deans and department chairs.
We got wind of this, and did a new analysis, taking into account all the claims that Pauly had made about our initial analysis, and continued to find many available classrooms at more desirable times. Eventually, Pauly had to cave, and in what must have been a humiliating retreat, rescinded the 8:00 a.m. mandate.Pushback From Pauly
Thus we were not entirely surprised when we got the following e-mail from Pauly.
Hi, John,The Pretext
I have asked my assistant, Kim Newman, to set up a meeting between you, me, Barry McCormick, and Phil Rossi. My concern is that the recent case of Anahi Sanchez illustrates some of the ongoing potential conflicts between your role as Marquette professor and employee, and independent blogger-journalist. My hope is that our conversation might clarify some of those role expectations going forward. A half hour should do the trick.
So just what was the deal with Anahi Sanchez?
Back in February, we learned that “The Vagina Monologues” is to be performed on campus. A source tipped us off that Marquette performances were listed on the vday.com website. We checked that out, and found that feminist activist Anahí Sánchez was listed as the Marquette contact.
A link on the vday.org website led to her e-mail. So we sent her an e-mail, asking for confirmation, and especially under what auspices the play would be performed. This was an issue in 2007, when Student Affairs refused to let a student group sponsor the play (which is wildly at odds with Catholic teaching about sexuality). But academic units are free to mount whatever programs then want, and thus the Honors Program was the sponsor.
Here is our e-mail:
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2011 9:24 AMWhen we hadn’t heard from her in a few hours, we found her home phone number at Peoplefinders.com, and called it. A fellow, sounding to be middle-aged (her father, perhaps) answered and we left a message asking her to call us. We shortly got an e-mail from her:
To: Sanchez, AnahiAccording to the Vagina Monologues website, there are going to be performances on campus, and you are the contact.
Can you confirm that this is the case?
Under what auspices will the performance be staged (a student organization, Honors Program, etc.)?Any information you can give me will be appreciated. If you want to call me at 288-3425, I’d be happy to talk.
John McAdamsDepartment of Political Science
Marquette Warrior Blog
The Vagina Monologues will be performed on campus through the women of Empowerment.We, of course, were happy with this response, since it clearly implied that she was willing to share information. But we had no information yet, and so put up a post with the information we had.
If you would like to know more feel free to ask me through email or if you feel the need to call me please do so on my cell phone (414) [redacted]. I know you called my home earlier today. I don’t recall putting that information up on the website but if I did that is not correct, so I apologize for that.Anahí Sánchez
National M.E.Ch.A. Co-chairMarquette University ‘11
After learning that Social and Cultural Sciences would sponsor the event, we learned that it had been removed from the vday.com website. So we wrote her again on February 28.
Hi, Anahi,We got no response. We tried calling her cell phone three (if memory serves) times, but it rang off the hook. So we gave up.
Could you tell me what the current deal with The Vagina Monologues is? . . . The Marquette performance is not now listed on the Vday website. I’m just trying to do an update on this, and wondering what the deal is.John McAdams
On March 9, we finally got around to putting up another blog post on the event, with the time and date having been gotten from Special Events. But Sánchez appears to have somehow felt aggrieved, since she complained to university officials (and eventually to Pauly), not that she has been harassed, but that she did not know whether we were trying to contact her in our role as a faculty member or our role as a blogger!
Given the innocuous nature of the information we were asking for, a stray person off the street had the right to e-mail her (again her e-mail was listed on the vday.org website). This, it seems, was a sufficient pretext for Pauly to summon us, Political Science Chair Barry McCormick and Interim Arts & Sciences Dean Phil Rossi to his office. The meeting is set up for this Friday, and we will report on it here.
Pauly Is Badly Compromised in Dealing With This
We sent Pauly this e-mail on Monday (2/28) explaining the problem he has:
John,Pauly hung tough, and insisted on a meeting with us, McCormick and Rossi. Remember, on the 8:00 a.m. class issue, Pauly hung tough on an untenable position.
The problem is that you are badly compromised in dealing with this issue, since I’ve been quite critical of you on my blog. So when this breaks it will look for all the world like you are seizing on some trivial issue as a form of “payback” for the tough time I’ve given you.That, at least, is the appearance, and appearances matter.
You might also ask yourself whether this would look to anybody like any kind of substantial issue. What you have is one . . . young lady who complains that she didn’t know whether I was making an inquiry as a professor or a blogger. But that didn’t matter. I had a right to ask in either role. Indeed, since she was listed at the Marquette contact for the Vagina Monologues on the vday.com website, a stray person off the street had every right to contact her and ask innocuous questions about the forthcoming performance.So that’s going to look like a pretext, rather than a problem of any sort.
Clearly you should recuse yourself from this “issue.” If you really think it is an issue, kick it down to Barry and Phil.You should also call one or two of your former colleagues in journalism, and ask them whether they see any issue here.
Given that you could have simply called me, and we could have talked about this, your e-mails, involving Barry and Phil looks for all the world like harassment.And if you insist on summoning me over to talk to you three, I can only interpret that as further harassment.
You could just let this drop, or you could just call me, and I’ll be happy to listen to any concerns you have.Please think about this. Just trying to give some friendly advice.
But of course, we don’t know what his position is here. At one point in the e-mail exchange, he implied that our signing the initial e-mail “Department of Political Science/Marquette Warrior Blog” was the issue. Is it all this trivial?
Clearly, blogging is an academic activity, protected by the canons of academic freedom. Many academics have blogs, including those in the Marquette Law School, Mark Johnson in Theology, Matt Wion in Philosophy, and Steve Byers in Journalism. National blogs run by academics include Althouse, and The Volokh Conspiracy.
Virtually all academics have a legitimate interest in public affairs, including the internal politics of the institutions where they work. And blogging is a form of publication, although admittedly more like a newspaper op-ed that an article in a scholarly journal. But academics have a right to academic freedom in writing op-eds and articles for the popular press, as Marquette’s heretical theologian Dan Maguire demonstrates with great frequency.
But university bureaucrats don’t like being criticized, and especially don’t like being criticized by those supposedly “below” them in the hierarchy. We’ll find out, soon enough, what Pauly’s position is.