Wednesday, April 06, 2005

DePaul response to previous article

To be fair, I'll run this one in its entirety. I'll list my points afterwards.

Professor's critic grossly ill-informed

by The Post Editorial Board
by Robin Florzak, March 31, 2005
I was disappointed to read Daniel Hiester's U-Wire column that ran in The Post on March 28 ("Political discussions need to be leveled").

Since neither Hiester nor the syndicated columnist he cites in his piece called DePaul University to check their facts, the author erroneously characterized the incident involving DePaul instructor Thomas Klocek as a matter of academic freedom.

DePaul University has great respect for academic freedom. For more than a century, DePaul has fostered a free and open environment where vigorous debate is encouraged.

Contrary to Hiester's contention, academic freedom and personal beliefs are not the issue here. The incident involving Klocek is about inappropriate and threatening behavior directed at our students.

Last September, Klocek acted in a belligerent and menacing manner toward students who were passing out literature at a table in the cafeteria. He raised his voice, threw pamphlets at students, pointed his finger near their faces and displayed a gesture interpreted as obscene. This continued for some time before other students in the crowded cafeteria summoned staff help to intervene.

Quite simply, the issue is Klocek's conduct, not the content of his speech.

After university administrators met with Klocek, DePaul took action to protect our students and maintain a professional standard of conduct at the university. As an adjunct instructor who is hired on an as-needed basis each term, Klocek does not receive the same privileges as full-time tenured professors. However, the university and its Faculty Council have encouraged him to file a grievance and receive the hearing he claims he was denied. In the six months since that suggestion was made, Klocek has not done so.

Instead, his lawyer threatened DePaul with litigation and demanded a large sum of money. Then he hired a publicist in an attempt to exert pressure to secure the financial settlement.

DePaul University continues to honor its commitment to academic freedom, open expression and due process, but DePaul also insists on the highest professional standards of behavior from our faculty and staff. DePaul's 23,570 students deserve nothing less.

-Robin Florzak is the director of media relations at DePaul University. Send her an e-mail at

Okay, here we go. Klocek does have a publicist working for him, but the law firm representing him hired the publicist. Not quite the same thing.

Secondly, Robin does not mention this nugget: Professor Klocek never received a hearing from DePaul and the School of New Learning. I haven't yet got to the bottom of this angle of the story, but it's my impression that the ball has been in DePaul and the School of New Learning's Dean Susanne Dumbleton since his suspension last fall.

Thirdly, pointing a finger, throwing pamphlets and the raising of a voice (and it's unclear if any or all of these things occurred in the way Ms. Florzak desribes above) is not recommended behavior. But since Professor Klocek has not been offered a hearing on these alleged transgressions.

Finally, DePaul's story keeps changing. Ten days ago or so, it was Professor Klocek's health problems which preventing the School of New Learning from putting him back in the classroom with the same number of classes as in the fall semester.

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