Thursday, April 2, 2015

Campus inquisition at Marquette, says The New Criterion

Marquette University's treatment of Professor John McAdams is the subject of the lead editorial in the latest issue of The New Criterion.
"Like most American institutions of higher education these days, Marquette is Janus-faced when it comes to free speech. Their public-relations, fund-raising face proclaims their commitment to academic freedom and an environment that 'prepares [students] for the world by asking them to think critically about it.' Tuition dollars and annual-fund checks safely docketed, the workaday, totalitarian face takes over. Only opinions that pass today’s politically correct test of orthodoxy are allowed. 'Thinking critically' means repudiating anything not on the approved list of PC attitudes."
In reading the editorial, and reflecting on the case, it struck me that Marquette has said both:
- that the problem with McAdams' blog post is that while he criticized a graduate student in the role of college classroom teacher, Marquette regards a graduate student instructor as a student first; and
- that other faculty have expressed the concern that McAdams would criticize them in a similar way.
That is, MU has indicated that it's crucial, and not crucial, that McAdams criticized a student rather than a faculty member.

While McAdams appears to have a good case, TNC's editors and I don't assume he's certain to prevail. They wonder if he'd stay after winning. I wonder if Marquette would do whatever it takes to keep him from returning, even if he wins.

It's also struck me that in this matter, there's no indication MU President Lovell took any steps to reconcile the parties. I likewise saw no such indication in the media reports of his handling of the dispute with the UWM student government when he was chancellor there. That matter is in litigation, as McAdams' matter might also turn out to be.

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