Monday, January 19, 2015

Support for Marquette Warrior from Dan Maguire

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

[Discussion of two other issues omitted]

L’affaire McAdams:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel C. Maguire

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

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

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

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

Failures in Philosophy

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

Indeed it could have.

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

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

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

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

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

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Blogger frankly said...

Maguire's post seems to be about due process; therefore, it's hardly an endorsement of your behavior.

Have you been informed of the charges against you? Do they include a potential FERPA violation?

10:43 AM  

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