Friday, April 01, 2011

Marquette Warrior Blogger Threatened, Bullied by Provost, Dean and Department Chair

We just got out of a meeting with Provost John Pauly, Interim Arts & Sciences Dean Rev. Philip J. Rossi, and Political Science Department Chair Barrett L. McCormick.

This was the meeting we were summoned to by Pauly.

Pauly, in an e-mail to us, said the meeting was about “some of the ongoing potential conflicts between your role as Marquette professor and employee, and independent blogger-journalist.”

The bottom line: all three – Pauly, Rossi and McCormick – want us to entirely stop blogging about student organizations. Well . . . not entirely. Pauly made it clear that it is fine with him if we commend student organizations. That’s right: a former journalism instructor is demanding biased journalism!

Pauly claimed to have no problem with our blogging about faculty and administrators, but claimed our blogging about student affairs has been out of line. How much of this was a genuine concern (some of it probably was) and how much was the result of an ideological bias from liberal administrators toward a conservative blogger (there was almost certainly some of that too) we can’t say.

Two specific instances were mentioned. First, we called the listed home number of a student, talked to (apparently) her father and left a polite message asking for a return call, explaining that we were working on a blog post about The Vagina Monologues (the student was listed as the Marquette contact on vday.org). Apparently, the student’s parents freaked. All three administrators (Pauly, Rossi and McCormick) condemned the call saying that faculty should never call the parents of students. They said that the parents should have been in Fr. Wild’s office loudly complaining about it.

We replied that we were calling the listed number of the student (and had no way of knowing that she was living with her parents), and that’s it’s standard practice for a journalist to call a potential source at home. But Pauly, Rossi and McCormick explicitly stated that we should somehow have known that the parents would freak. We were accused of merely offering “rationalizations.”

All thee insisted that we don’t have any of the prerogatives of a journalist, since the role of a professor trumps that of a faculty blogger.

The other issue raised was the fact that we had mentioned a student’s research paper, and were accused of “criticizing” it. In reality, we did not mention the student’s name, and the point of the blog post was that “‘gender studies’ has been added to ‘women’s studies’ [which] signals a move toward a homosexual emphasis, as shown by one of the papers completed by a WGST fellow this summer . . . .” The blog post was, quite simply, a comment on the fact that the Women’s and Gender Studies program has begun to slip “queer studies” into the university.

Pauly, Rossi and McCormick lamely replied that people could find the name of the student (we included the title of the paper, which could be googled), and that some people knew that we had supposedly “criticized the student.” In fact, nothing was said that was favorable or unfavorable about the student.

A Sandbox?

McCormick, using a metaphor that was supremely insulting to students, insisted that student activities are a “sandbox,” and that faculty should never comment on what student organizations do.

We pointed out that, in the issues they brought up, Marquette as an institution had been the issue. The Vagina Monologues will be sponsored by Social and Cultural Sciences, and the post that “criticized student research” was about the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

We further pointed out that when students do high-profile public things, there is a legitimate news interest in what they do. In fact, it serves students well to learn that when they do highly visible controversial public things in some official role, they might get criticized.

Further, what student organizations do has consequences for the University. When Fr. Wild announced that Marquette is going to provide domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian couples, he explicitly cited a resolution calling for that from Marquette University Student Government. If student organizations can affect Marquette University policy, it’s hard to see how they should be exempt from scrutiny.

As the meeting moved on, Rossi and McCormick became more ad hominem, Rossi accusing us of having a “blind spot,” and McCormick asserting that nobody he knew felt that our blogging about student organizations was acceptable. Since we’ve gotten multiple supporting e-mails, that says more about McCormick’s circle of friends than about what “everybody believes.”

All three implied (and sometimes stated) that we had been guilty of some violation of professional ethics, but could not explain what that would be, beyond McCormick’s “sandbox” metaphor, and the general notion that faculty should never publicly say anything negative about a student, even a student in a very public role doing something controversial.

We were willing to make only one concession: we assured the group that we would be more careful in the future about mentioning student’s names. (It typically isn’t that significant who the student is anyway.) But that wasn’t enough.

They hung tough with the position that we should never comment on student affairs, and we were threatened by both Pauly and McCormick saying that we would “be here [in a meeting like this] again” if we persisted in blogging about the activities of student groups.

Needless to say, we will continue to blog about activities on campus, and when the actions of student organizations have substantial news interest, we will report them. And we will be critical when appropriate.

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33 Comments:

Anonymous Brandon H said...

Don't be intimidated, keep up the great work Dr.McAdams!
Brandon H
Marquette '06

12:23 PM  
Blogger Right* Winged said...

Its incredible how the administrators, and others on the left, find that to achieve equality for some you have to take the equality, rights and freedom of speech of others. Its reassuring to say the least, that Marquette University has at least one person that is willing to stand up for the integrity of our school, tradition and faith. Thank you Dr. McAdams.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Diana Sroka Rickert said...

Yet another example of liberal intolerance for dissent. Keep blogging!

Diana Sroka Rickert
MU Journalism/Political Science '08

1:52 PM  
Blogger OwenG said...

Dr. Pauly etc. have an interesting point to make -- that it should be out of bounds for a faculty member to criticize the activities or scholarship of students (except, I presume, when the faculty member is supervising.
It sounds good in principle but there are so many gray zones. What about faculty commenting on a fb post of a student fb friend? What about commenting on a fb post of a student non-fb friend? What of responding to a student's letter to the editor? Was it in principle inappropriate for faculty in the 60s and 70s to publicly take issue with disruptive student protests? Etc. Your actions were certainly in-your-face but -- except for the fact that you have now been directed otherwise -- it would seem to me that your actions were within your rights.

At the very least, it's good that there is public discussion of these issues. Hopefully this can initiate a serious debate.

Owen Goldin, Dept. of Philosophy

2:00 PM  
Blogger OwenG said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Badger Catholic said...

Thank you for hanging tough. They'll treat you like sh*t and hope you leave. I didn't realize scare tactics and intimidation were part of the Jesuit tradition.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for being such a great warrior for conservative issues and Catholic identity!

Tom
MU '10

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how there seems to be a changing definition of free speech depending on what each side stands to reap. The free speech when guest speakers allowed to spew hate and contempt for America is somehow more important and more protected than the free speech by professors who have a different opinion than what the majority of their collegues who are leftist have. In college I am taught to bring new ideas to the table and to think critically. This must only acceptable if I share the same ideals as the lefty professor.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Justin Phillips said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the same time MU is asking Alumni to participate in surveys and discussion groups to find out why so few MU alum give money back to the school they pull this stunt. If I wanted to give money to a left wing Wisconsin school, why would I give to MU? UW Madison at least has a top 50 academic rating. What has happened to my old school?

A two time MU Grad.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marquette is sadly becoming a Catholic University in name-only. It is very interesting that a professor/blogger is being censored for discussing campus events, etc., from a conservative and moral viewpoint. Just what are the censors worried about?

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Just an Average "Catholic" Joe said...

A good friend of mine, in an effort to address the Vagina Monologues at Notre Dame several years ago, in a discourse with Fr. Jenkins drew the discussion to the responsibility of genuine fatherhood. He told Fr. Jenkins that as a father he was responsible for the souls of his six children, that he had a moral obligation to faithfully present the Catholic faith to them, to foster an environment of truth, to denounce untruths that the world would present to them. He went on to tell Fr. Jenkins that the same was true for him, that he was responsible for the souls of every member of the facility, staff, and student body at the university. Therefore, he should have the courage and fidelity to stand up for truth. Allowing a lie to be promoted as a possible truth isn't an honest seeking of the truth nor is it a genuine shepherding of souls.

The lack of Catholic certitude within some Catholic universities never ceases to amaze me. The question becomes on what "authority" do they base these decisions, these "tolerances" of lies.

Thomas Dubay, S.M., in his book Seeking Spiritual Direction, stated that "I would not consider the modest recognition of plain truth to be objectionable or arrogant. Facts are facts, whatever label is put on them."

Marquette Warrior please continue to wave the banner of truth.

I'll close with two quotes from G.K Chesterton:

"Tolerance is the virtue of the man with no convictions."

"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own."

How often we forget that God is in charge...

In Christ - The Way, and the Truth, and the Life,
Joe

7:37 AM  
Blogger wAv said...

Nothing like trying to kill free speech. Small-minded people treat others in small-minded ways.

Keep fighting John.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't about fighting for Catholic Identity or Conservative issues. Where you crossed the line was when you became impatient and looked up and called her home phone number.

To quote an earlier post by you: "When we hadn’t heard from her in a few hours, we found her home phone number at Peoplefinders.com, and called it". This was wrong. This was where you pushed the envelope too far. Why would you call her home number when most students on campus do not live at home? Didn’t you think she would respond once she got out of her possible class, a part time job, etc, etc? Can you imagine what her father might have been thinking to hear from a random MU professor asking about his daughter? Even though you are an independent blogger (which is absolutely fine), you still represent Marquette as a faculty member in many of your actions. You may have thought you had taken off your “MU Professor” hat, and put on your “Blogger” hat, but just because you think you are not representing Marquette doesn’t mean that is the case.

As an alum, a parent and a proud conservative, I think you went too far in this instance. By all means, you are free to blog about the issues and events going on around campus-that is your right. Though you should realize that being a blogger and a MU faculty member maybe less independent of each other than you may think-at least to those whom you contact, including students, parents, faculty, staff, etc.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully, American Papist tweeting this will shine the light of real, nonbiased journalism on this type of intimidation. Reminds me more of communism than freedom. I.e., Everyone may speak freely as long as they speak the party line.

12:15 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Why would you call her home number when most students on campus do not live at home?

The point is that most students don't live at home. The phone as listed under her name. I didn't somehow find a listing for her parents, and infer that I could reach her there.

I suppose I could have just hung up (very impolite), but remember she was listed on the worldwide web as the "contact" for The Vagina Monologues, so I had no way of knowing she (or anybody living with her) would mind being "contacted."

What do you think being listed as a "contact" means?

BTW, Pauly's position was not merely that I should not have called her at all, but that I shouldn't have reported on the issue -- or at least should never have mentioned Empowerment.

Do you agree with him on that?

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The phone number was listed as the contact number. It was listed under the student's name. How in the world would anyone know a parent of the student would answer the phone?

My goodness! The provost, interim dean and department chairman hiding behind students. Weak.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Dick Feyrer said...

As a longtime local journalist and part-time journalism instructor at MU, I condemn such intimidation of pluralism in the academic environment. It's worse, ascually, than the Arizona Republic publisher here being on the Fiesta Bowl Board. Back off from Dr. McAdams. He has the high ground here. And, yes, I'm the 1968 MU grad criticized at that time for writing something about birth control, a taboo subject, after it was published in the Marquette Tribune. Some things the administration just doesn't ever seem to get. Go Warriors!

3:39 PM  
Anonymous scott said...

I'm not sure where I come down on this issue, but one thing certainly seems under-appreciated in many of the above comments. The fact that you have, day after day, year after year, published disparaging tirades against the organization you work for without being fired or punished speaks volumes about Marquette's dedication to academic freedom. I doubt any of the commenters here could do that with their employer. I doubt that I could, myself.

4:01 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

I'm the 1968 MU grad criticized at that time for writing something about birth control, a taboo subject, after it was published in the Marquette Tribune.

Well it seems that Catholic universities go from orthodoxy to political correctness without ever stopping at a middle ground of tolerance.

I think people had a right to criticize what you wrote about birth control, but you should have suffered no adverse consequences at the hands of Marquette.

7:54 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

The fact that you have, day after day, year after year, published disparaging tirades against the organization you work for without being fired or punished speaks

That's what academic freedom is about. I doubt you mind when leftists attack Marquette -- for not hiring Jodi O'Brien, for example.

I think anybody is free to set up a university without academic freedom. They may be able to hire faculty (those that happen to agree with the mission), and get students (who likewise agree).

But that's not what Marquette has chosen to do. So I get the benefit of the same policy that also protects the lefties.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous scott said...

anybody is free to set up a university without academic freedom. They may be able to hire faculty (those that happen to agree with the mission), and get students (who likewise agree).

But that's not what Marquette has chosen to do.


No, it hasn't. It has embraced academic freedom, ideals of open inquiry and a diversity of viewpoints. Something you yourself might remember more often instead of just when it suits your circumstances.

9:23 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

It has embraced academic freedom, ideals of open inquiry and a diversity of viewpoints.

Actually, no, Marquette has increasingly embraced intolerant political correctness.

See just one example here.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous scott said...

I am thinking instead about Jodi O'Brien, since you brought it up. You didn't seem concerned about her academic freedom when the university reneged on her job offer. Nor were you concerned about the existing faculty who, quite understandably, worried about their own careers because they did work similar to hers.

I don't purport to know whether that decision was the right one. It's above my pay scale. And I don't know if the meeting you had was inappropriate either. What I do know is that you seem to be engaging in a double-standard here. Concerns about academic freedom seem to apply only in cases where your own views are in jeopardy.

10:15 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

You didn't seem concerned about her academic freedom when the university reneged on her job offer.

You're assuming there is an academic freedom right to be a dean. There isn't.

All the lefties who whined about O'Brien would be the first to demand the firing of a dean who was a psychologist who believed that blacks are inherently inferior to whites, or a climate scientist who was skeptical of global warming.

Academic freedom is for faculty.

Do you think an historically black college has a right to prefer blacks for dean's jobs? That a Jewish university (say, Yashiva) has a right to prefer Jews?

Being a dean is an administrative position, and you can't claim to have any particular "identity" if the top administrators are contrary to that identity.

Is it OK to discriminate against somebody who is not a Jesuit in hiring a Marquette president?

6:06 PM  
Anonymous scott said...

You're assuming there is an academic freedom right to be a dean. There isn't.

This is very educational, thanks. But you didn't mention the actual people who voiced concern about their academic freedom in that instance--current faculty members. What about them? Some of them seemed to think the decision would have a chilling effect on scholarship at the university. Not so?

I understood that Marquette is obligated to hire a Jesuit president, as it's mandated in the charter of the school to do so. Is it also mandated that deans be Catholic or adhere to all Catholic ideas in their scholarship? If so I wasn't aware.

I think it would be better all around if any ideological or religious requirements were clearly mandated in the university's charter. That way there would be no ambiguity. Do you agree? And what mandates would you like to see?

7:13 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Some of them seemed to think the decision would have a chilling effect on scholarship at the university. Not so?

Not unless the faculty in question wanted to be administrators. And the truth is, liberal and leftist politically correct faculty quite frequently do want to be administrators.

But people who are lightening rods for controversy usually don't get administrator's jobs, and this includes the few conservative academics as well as secular types who attack and oppose Catholic teaching.

As for having this spelled out: in principle, that would be a good idea. In the best of all possible worlds, all the top administrative posts at "Jesuit" universities would be help by Jesuits. But their ranks are too thin.

I do think it's fair to say you can't outspokenly oppose Catholic teaching about sex (or other things, for that matter) and be a top administrator at a Catholic university.

That ought to be a clear understanding. The fact that it wasn't clear, and the fact that liberal faculty on the Search Committee and Provost John Pauly tried to get Marquette an affirmative action lesbian dean produced the Jodi O'Brien fiasco.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have some big cahones amigo. Pauly strikes me as having poor managerial skills including poor decision-making. The new president should look to appoint someone with a different approach and put pauly on leave.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned fundraising.... Or lack thereof.

MU should put mcadams in an alumni relations role as he would easily get better results. But they would not be smart enough to do that.

If mcadams hosted a table at alumni weekend would want to attend.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Marquette Tribune (http://marquettetribune.org/2011/04/05/news/dps-jmc1-tw2-dac3/):

April 1

At 4:34 p.m., a female student reported being repeatedly harassed by a male employee between Friday, Feb. 18 at 9:24 a.m. and Friday, April 1 at 4:34 p.m. due to her involvement with a student organization. MPD assistance was declined.

10:00 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

a female student reported being repeatedly harassed by a male employee between Friday, Feb. 18 at 9:24 a.m. and Friday, April 1 at 4:34 p.m. due to her involvement with a student organization.

Well that's interesting, if that's really Anahi, and she's claiming that I harassed her.

She listed herself as the "contact" for the Vagina Monologues, then claimed to be harassed when I tried to contact her!

What does she think "contact" means?

And she second e-mail I sent her was in response to her e-mail that explicitly told me I could ask her for information.

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your continued blogging.

MU MA-INAF 08'

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pauly should go!!For the sake of the University, his legacy of poor decisions in such a short time does not bode well for the inevitable, flawed decision making and continued misguided direction. The longer he remains the bigger the risk.

Alum '76

5:57 PM  

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