Today the Collegiate Network released its “2005 Campus Outrage Awards,” and Le Moyne College received a not-so-coveted first-place award for dismissing student Scott McConnell for advocating corporal punishment. In addition to this dubious distinction, McConnell’s case has been covered by The New York Times, NPR, The Baltimore Sun, The American Spectator, The Post-Standard, and the Christian Science Monitor. As I said in our press release on this case: “The fight for the academic freedom of Scott McConnell and for all Le Moyne students will not end just because administrators don’t feel like addressing the issue.” Let’s hope Le Moyne realizes that this debate is not going to disappear and decides to correct its actions.
The Collegiate Network’s fourth-place pick was Occidental College for its handling of the Jason Antebi affair: “In an astonishing abuse of administrative power at Occidental College, campus shock-jock Jason Antebi was fired from his radio program and found guilty by the school’s Title IX Officer of ‘sexual and gender hostile environment harassment,’ against his entire audience after three students were offended by sophomoric comments he made on the air.” As readers may know, FIRE has also been astonished by this case (my latest blog installment on this case can be found here).
FIRE is also extremely concerned about the case to which the Collegiate Network gave its second-place award: that of Professor Hans Hoppe at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. The Collegiate Network writes:
Second: At the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Economics Professor Hans Hoppe received disciplinary sanctions for making an economically verifiable argument that homosexuals engage less in long-term financial planning than heterosexuals because they typically do not have children. One of Hoppe’s students, Michael Knight, filed a complaint leading to a yearlong battle between Hoppe and the University (which Hoppe eventually won). Knight accused Hoppe of “stereotyping homosexuals…When the door closes and the lecture began [sic], he needs to make sure he is remaining as politically correct as possible.” In an interview with Professor Hoppe by the Collegiate Network, Professor Hoppe believes he lost a year of his life to the entire affair. The University’s Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Officer affirmed the complaint by Knight and recommended that Hoppe receive a reprimand and be suspended without pay for one week. A grievance committee made up of one student and Hoppe’s faculty peers was held on November 18, 2004. The committee upheld the original grievance and recommended that Hoppe be reprimanded and forfeit any merit pay for the current academic year. On February 9, 2005, Hoppe received “a non-disciplinary letter of instruction” from Raymond W. Alden, III, the university’s Executive Vice President and Provost, affirming the decision of the grievance committee, stating that Hoppe had created “a hostile learning environment” in his classroom, and instructing Hoppe “to cease mischaracterizing opinion as objective fact in the educational environment.” However, nine days later, the university’s president, Dr. Carol Harter, released a statement in which she acknowledged that professors “are entitled the freedom to teach theories and to espouse opinions that are out of the mainstream or are controversial…” nowhere in the statement did Harter apologize to Hoppe for what university officials put him through, nor were any individual university officials singled out for criticism. Knight, the student who filed the complaint, would have fit right in at LeMoyne College. The letter from the university, and the statement from President Harter are available on the web. Professor Hoppe’s Victory Blog shows how support for his cause has reached beyond the borders of the United States.
FIRE is keeping an eye on the Hoppe situation for future developments. With regard to the harassment issues with which Professor Hoppe has had to contend, I noted the following in my most recent Daily Journal column concerning the Lyle sexual harassment case in California:
Whatever the future consequences of the appeal court’s poorly considered opinion, overly expansive interpretations of harassment have already had a disastrous effect on our nation’s most important "communicative workplace" – our colleges and universities. Claims of harassment are not an incidental or occasional threat to free speech on campus, they are the single biggest loophole to punish protected speech on campus and have been for decades now.
Thanks to the Collegiate Network for bringing more attention to these important cases.