Media Reports & Comments

Alleged Incivility at Purdue-Calumet Tests the Limits of Academic Freedom – See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/Alleged-Incivility-at/146633/#disqus_thread
Alleged Incivility at Purdue-Calumet Tests the Limits of Academic Freedom – See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/Alleged-Incivility-at/146633/#disqus_thread

Alleged Incivility at Purdue-Calumet Tests the Limits of Academic Freedom

Alleged Incivility at Purdue-Calumet Tests the Limits of Academic Freedom 1

The Purdue U.-Calumet Chronicle

Maurice M. Eisenstein, an outspoken associate professor of political science, is at the center of a debate at Purdue U.-Calumet over where to draw the line between protected speech and harassment.

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– See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/Alleged-Incivility-at/146633/#disqus_thread

Alleged Incivility at Purdue-Calumet Tests the Limits of Academic Freedom

Alleged Incivility at Purdue-Calumet Tests the Limits of Academic Freedom 1

The Purdue U.-Calumet Chronicle

Maurice M. Eisenstein, an outspoken associate professor of political science, is at the center of a debate at Purdue U.-Calumet over where to draw the line between protected speech and harassment.

Enlarge Image

This much can be said for Maurice M. Eisenstein, a tenured associate professor of political science at Purdue University-Calumet: No one on the campus faults him for failing to speak his mind.

His sharp-tongued candor, however, is being viewed by many people there mainly as a problem, leading to formal reprimands against him and debates over where administrators should draw the line between protected speech and outright harassment.

– See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/Alleged-Incivility-at/146633/#disqus_thread

Alleged Incivility at Purdue-Calumet Tests the Limits of Academic Freedom
By Peter Schmidt
The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 16, 2014

This much can be said for Maurice M. Eisenstein, a tenured associate professor of political science at Purdue University-Calumet: No one on the campus faults him for failing to speak his mind.

His sharp-tongued candor, however, is being viewed by many people there mainly as a problem, leading to formal reprimands against him and debates over where administrators should draw the line between protected speech and outright harassment.

For more, please click on this link.

A Message to the ampus Community by Professor of English, Dr. Colin Fewer, Purdue University Calumet
Posted on Open Forum, May 08, 2014

The student senate of Purdue Calumet read a resolution regarding the attack on Yahya into the PUC Faculty Senate minutes at the senate meeting yesterday. We should be very proud of our students; they have taken a leadership role in this matter for the last three years, first under Jessie Martin and now under Adam Cooper. The student senate passed this resolution despite warnings that they might be subject to litigation; they felt strongly enough about it that they were willing to put themselves on the line and make the statement.

As this latest embarrassment unfolds, I want to note a recurring theme in many of the public comments, namely, “why isn’t the administration doing something?” or even “since they didn’t do anything, he must not have done anything wrong.” That’s exactly what I thought when the student protests started over two years ago–surely “they” will do something about this. Like most faculty and students, I had no idea what Purdue policies exist to sanction this kind of behavior, or whose job it is to enforce them. Why would we? Most of us just try to do our jobs with integrity; we have no reason to know the fine points of the anti-harassment code or Executive Memorandum B-48.
It turns out that, for the most part, it is the faculty’s job to enforce standards of academic quality and conduct. “They” is us.

I do happen to respectfully disagree with the administration’s decisions in the various proceedings related to this affair, and I do think that some administrators could be doing more to prevent future abuses. But the administration has much less power to discipline faculty than many people seem to think. Under most relevant procedures, the university can’t unilaterally begin an investigation; it can only respond to complaints–and those complaints must be related to specific Purdue policies and delivered to the appropriate recipient. Even then, a great deal of bad behavior slips through the cracks of Purdue policies, which were written with the implicit assumption that faculty and students do their work in good faith.

In the model of governance laid out by the AAUP and largely followed at Purdue, administration has virtually no control over what faculty say and do, short of actual harassment, incompetence, moral turpitude, or conduct injurious to the welfare of the University (all very difficult to prove). That’s the point of academic freedom; we can’t have administrators firing people for speech they don’t like. But it means that when a faculty member ignores his or her obligations to the community, the community has to do something about it:

The governing board and the administration have a special duty not only to set an outstanding example of tolerance, but also to challenge boldly and condemn immediately serious breaches of civility.

Members of the faculty, too, have a major role; their voices may be critical in condemning intolerance, and their actions may set examples for understanding, making clear to their students that civility and tolerance are hallmarks of educated men and women. (AAUP, “On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes”)
Shrugging our shoulders and saying “it’s a free speech thing” (as one person did in conversation with me) isn’t enough. The implication of that statement was “it’s a free speech thing, so there’s nothing we can do.” The truth is the opposite: it’s a free speech thing, so we have to do something. Collectively, as a faculty and as staff members of this institution. Because this institution’s reputation is at stake. We should have enough pride in what we do here that we are upset when someone wets our bed.

What can we do? I’m glad you asked. Some thoughts:

• I don’t support a faculty/staff code of conduct, which has been discussed in the senate. You can’t write them without infringing speech, and a bad actor will always find a way around them.
• Speak out. Sign petitions, write to the senate. The student senate, under a PUC constitutional procedure, formally called for a Senate investigation two years ago. No action was taken. That request is still outstanding.
• Learn Purdue policies. If a student came to you and said that a faculty member used a racial slur against her, would you know what to tell her? Know which policies apply to which behavior. Be aware of students’ rights to complain to the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education, or the Department of Justice’s Educational Opportunities section (which handles religious harassment). Students generally have no idea what their rights are and no idea how to find out. Most often, they go to a department head, but (for example) a formal harassment complaint must be delivered directly to the chancellor. A department head, under most procedures, has no obligation to assist the student with a formal complaint, and will generally try to resolve things informally. It’s relatively rare that a student has the courage to speak out when he or she is harassed—we need to be able to help them when they do.

Colin

From the resolution:
Resolved that the Student Government of Purdue University Calumet establishes its unreserved support for Professor Yahya Kamalipour against whom these unjustified accusations have been made; and be it further Resolved that the Student Government of Purdue University Calumet, representing the views and interests of its students, condemns the baseless and malign statements of Associate Professor Maurice Eisenstein, which fail to honor the values of Purdue University as well as the American Association of University Professors and disgrace the essential aspects that characterize higher education, including but not limited to thinking critically, providing evidence in support of claims, and drawing logical conclusions from such evidence.

 Professional and Personal Reaction to Maurice Eisenstein

By Scott Guffey

I recently read the article, “Bullies Hurt: Fact & Fiction,” written by Dr.Yahya R. Kamalipour, a communications professor from my alma mater and my former teacher. I have contemplated the content of the article for several days, and I have two strong reactions: an objective, practical professional reaction, and my subjectively-emotional, self-involved personal reaction.

Please click on the heading to read more…

 

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