Which of These Professors Would You Fire?

We keep getting new ones every week. University professors—supposedly enjoying academic freedom—keep getting into trouble for offensive political speech. Sometimes they get fired or punished and sometimes they don’t. How do administrators decide? It doesn’t seem like it’s about the politics.

eots_lawton1

The professor as activist: What will get you fired?

So today it’s time for the latest bitter ILYBYGTH play-along: Can YOU match these professors with their punishments? [Only click on the links if you want to cheat.] [And be warned: These rants sometimes include offensive language.]

Case 1: Law-school professor with a history of racist-y statements declares (incorrectly) that very few black students are top in their class. The line that got her in the most trouble? “[O]ur country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.”

Case 2: University professor rants on facebook about how much he hates white people. (He’s white, by the way.) The troublesome lines: “I now hate white people. . . . I hereby resign from my race. Fuck these people. . . . Fuck you, too.”

Case 3: Grad student instructor confronts a conservative undergrad. Stood in front of the undergrad’s Turning Point USA table and shouted, “”Becky the neo-fascist, right here. Wants to destroy public schools, public universities. Hates DACA kids. . . . Fight white nationalism! Fight white supremacy!”

Case 4: Adjunct instructor declares his support for antifa and hints that he’d like to hit Trump with a baseball bat. Gets heat for declaring on facebook: “It’s not pretty, and I’m not proud, but seeing what Evangelical Christians are doing to this country and its people fills me with rage, and a desire to exact revenge.”

So how were these professors punished? Are left-wing professors protected? Are conservatives attacked? Not so much. It seems like the differences are more about whether or not the professor had tenure.

Can you match the cases above with the punishments below?

Punishment #1: Instructor is fired.

Punishment #2: Instructor is removed from teaching, but keeps her job. The university president calls her ideas “repugnant.”

Punishment #3: Instructor is removed from teaching but keeps her job. University president privately apologizes to her for having to punish her.

Punishment #4: Instructor is fired, then un-fired. University calls his comments “offensive” and says they “violated university policy.” However, on a re-think, the university decided that “No student or university employee has come forward to assert that [the instructor] has in some way penalized them for their race. . . . There is no evidence that he administered grades and conducted himself in class in a manner that reveals any racial bias on his part.”

…so what do you think? Can you match the punishments with the cases? And, most intriguingly, do these cases reveal that conservative professors are punished more harshly than liberal ones? That mocking and belittling African Americans is a bigger crime on campus than threatening and insulting white people or evangelicals?

Jesus and the Ivy League

Religious conservatives often insist that America’s colleges and universities used to be “our schools.”

For example, Protestant fundamentalist educational writer A. A. “Buzz” Baker pointed out in the 1970s that, although “it may come as a surprise to some,” most of America’s leading colleges “used to be ‘our’ schools.”[1]  Similarly, B. Gray Allison, a conservative evangelical from Louisiana, noted in 1968 as campuses nationwide roiled with cultural conflict that not only Harvard, Yale, and Princeton began with explicitly religious missions, but “even the early state-supported institutions had a concern for the perpetuation of what might be termed religious culture.”[2]

Over at the inimitable The Way of Improvement Leads Home, historian John Fea offers some evidence from the archives to back up those assertions.

On March 19, 1761, Fea reports, the College of Philadelphia’s (the future Penn) Board of Trustees approved some student rules that might warm the heart of twenty-first century religious conservatives.

Every student had to attend chapel.  Slacking off or not paying attention during prayer or Bible readings could call for punishment.

Plus, no sauntering!  Check out Fea’s full post here.

 


[1] A.A. Baker, The Successful Christian School: Foundational Principles for Starting and Operating a Successful Christian School (Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book Publications, 1979), 34.

 

[2] B. Gray Allison, “The American Campus as a Spiritual Force,” Christianity Today 12 (May 10, 1968): 5.