Marquette Faculty Senate Mulling Ways to Silence Warrior Blogger
But it’s necessary to know some context to know what’s going on.
When Marquette lost its legal case against us, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed our contractual right to blog about things at Marquette (including misconduct at Marquette), the university released a truculent statement affirming it was right to try to fire us.
Marquette’s statement included several of the lies they have been telling all along.
The professor used his personal blog to mock a student teacher, intentionally exposing her name and contact information to a hostile audience that sent her vile and threatening messages. Fearing for her safety, the former student teacher left the university, a significant setback to her academic career and personal well-being.Our post on the conduct of graduate instructor Cheryl Abbate was not mocking at all, but rather described how she told an undergraduate that he was not allowed to express opposition to gay marriage in her class since it would “come across as homophobic” and might “offend” any gay students in class.
We did not “expose her contact information.” We linked to her public blog. Had somebody dug around the blog, they could have eventually found her e-mail address, although it was not on the page we linked to. But it would have been much easier to just Google her name.
Abbate received vile messages, certainly, but no threatening ones, as she admitted on her blog.
The difference is not trivial. Real threats are a matter for law enforcement.
Finally, Marquette lied about the reason Abbate left the university.
In reality, she had wanted to leave Marquette for Colorado (a much better Ph.D. program) the year before, but there was no room for her. The brouhaha over our blog post caused Colorado to reach out and offer her admission.
Marquette’s ThreatDoubling down on its position, Marquette promised:
Marquette will work with its faculty to re-examine its policies, with the goal of providing every assurance possible that this never happens again.What policies could that be? The Faculty Handbook, which is incorporated into every contract Marquette faculty have. The language in that handbook is what led the Wisconsin Supreme Court to find that Marquette had breached our contract when it tried to fire us.
And what “faculty” would Marquette “work with” to change the rules and silence (or at least impede) our blogging? The Faculty Senate.
So these entries in the schedule of the meeting look particularly significant:
XI. Workgroups – Dr. Michelle Mynlieff (4:35 to 4:57)
- Consider what to include in “professional conduct/cyberbullying” policy.
- Balance of academic freedom and professional behavior
- Professional behavior/cyberbullying policy committee
- Review of Grievance procedure
And also claim that faculty have rules for “professional behavior” that preclude criticizing people at the university.
How Do We Know?How do we know that this is aimed at us? Because in oral exchanges within the Academic Senate the “McAdams issue” has been mentioned in connection with potential amendments to the Faculty Handbook.
We will see how this unfolds, but unfortunately, academic freedom is in poor hands when it is in the hands of the faculty.
In the first place, the ideological biases of the faculty mean that conservative ideas and people will get little protection. College faculty are the sort who label speech they don’t like “racist” or “sexist” or “homophobic” or “hate speech” or “harassing” or “offensive.”
In the second place, groups like the Academic Senate tend to contain a self-selected bunch of faculty, many of which want to remain in the good graces of the administration.
So we will see what we shall see.