Reprisal: Marquette Warrior Under “Investigation” By University
Today we got an e-mail from Dean Richard Holz:
Dear John:We wrote him back and asked what the charges against us are. He failed to respond. Since we have done nothing particularly controversial lately besides blog about the Philosophy instructor (one Cheryl Abbate), we have to assume that’s what it is about.
The university is continuing to review your conduct and during this period--and until further notice--you are relieved of all teaching duties and all other faculty activities, including, but not limited to, advising, committee work, faculty meetings and any activity that would involve your interaction with Marquette students, faculty and staff. Should any academic appeals arise from Fall 2014 semester, however, you are expected to fulfill your obligations in that specific matter.
Your salary and benefits will continue at their current level during this time.
You are to remain off campus during this time, and should you need to come to campus, you are to contact me in writing beforehand to explain the purpose of your visit, to obtain my consent and to make appropriate arrangements for that visit. I am enclosing with this letter Marquette’s harassment policy, its guiding values statement, the University mission statement, and sections from the Faculty Handbook, which outline faculty rights and responsibilities; these documents will inform our review of your conduct.
Richard C. Holz, Ph.D. Dean
The fact that Holz sent the “harassment policy” suggests that somebody thinks that merely blogging about questionable conduct by a Philosophy instructor constitutes “harassment.” Marquette’s harassment policy is absurdly vague and includes “behavior is intimidating, hostile or demeaning or could or does result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or harm.” That’s right, even mental discomfort (which should be a normal part of having one’s opinions challenged in a university) is considered harassing.
However, the behavior must be directed toward a protected class (color, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, veteran status, age, gender or sexual orientation), and leftist philosophers are not a protected class.
As for having to remain off campus — in effect, being treated like a potential terrorist — we don’t know where that came from. The last time we were accused of harassment (it was sexual harassment, since we told an entire class that feminists grossly exaggerate the incidence of college date rape) we were not treated like a terrorist.
We insisted to Holz that we need to come to campus to complete a manuscript we are working on, he said that was OK.
Whether Marquette officials really want to punish us for blogging, or whether they simply feel the need for a pro forma “investigation” of charges someone has brought, we don’t know. Either would be gross misconduct on the part of Marquette officials. Any attempt to censor our blog not only would violate the canons of academic freedom, but would reverse years of precedent, since we have been free to criticize things going on at Marquette for nearly ten years now. And an “investigation” constitutes a form of harassment. Any charges against us should have been summarily dismissed.
Marquette, in other words, has again shown itself to be timid, overly bureaucratic and lacking any commitment to either its Catholic mission or free expression.