Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Repost: Dean Dumbleton's October letter to the DePaulia

(Actually, only Dean Dumbleton's letter is a re-post. The commentary is new.)

Yesterday, I posted about the disgraceful op-ed piece published in the DePaulia, the DePaul school newspaper. The student/writer Michael Gallo was grateful, in essence he told the DePaul administration "Thank you for protecting us from the bad man..." (Hat tip:

If the writer was just a run-of-the-mill student, I'd lay off the guy, but according to that article, he is a staff writer for the DePaulia. So for starters, he should possess a modest level of competence, and secondly, the piece must've been approved by at least one DePaulia editor. Oh, Professor Klocek was never contacted by Mr. Gallo for that piece

The headline, Goodbye, Klocek. Thanks, DPU, was contemptible. (DPU short, for DePaul University).

With my two prior posts, I tried to "fill in some of the lines" by posting in its entirety, Abdel Rahman al-Rashed article. "A Wake-up Call : Almost all terrorists are Muslims.. ", which inspired Neil Steinberg's September 6 Chicago Sun-Times column that seems to have been the catalyst for the September 15 cafeteria discussion, albeit a heated one, between Professor Klocek and students from two Palestinian groups.

Professor Klocek was suspended by Dean Susanne Dumbleton shortly after the cafeteria incident. This letter to the editor from Dumbleton appeared in the October 8 issue of the DePaulia. Dumbleton just trashes Klocek, and I think it's a safe bet that she never read either Steinberg's or Al-Rashed's columns. Just a hunch, but I bet she never did.

This is the letter in it's entirety. I've highlighted the most objectionable (to me) passages.

"Special to The DePaulia: SNL seeks to resolve situation
by Susanne Dumbleton

Dear Editor:
I want to commend you for your coverage of the incident in which a part-time faculty member from my college offended members of Students for Justice in Palestine and United Muslims Moving Ahead. It is important that we talk about such issues so we can all learn from them.

A university is a sacrosanct place, a place where persons gather for the sole purpose of learning and seeking truth and coming to understand the human condition. At DePaul, we have dedicated ourselves in a particular way to honor the dignity of each individual, considering each person as uniquely valuable and honored.

At any university, teachers have a crucial role passing knowledge to a new generation, to be sure, but always with the main purpose of helping students develop their capacity to think critically, to define themselves, to shape their future and the future of human kind.

Great teachers at any university create a climate where students feel free and empowered to analyze information critically, consider the validity of ideas, make difficult choices, and imagine possibilities. At DePaul, we make a particular point of diversity, deliberately recruiting to our student body faculty and staff people with widely divergent histories and futures.

No students anywhere should ever have to be concerned that they will be verbally attacked for their religious belief or ethnicity. No one should ever use the role of teacher to demean the ideas of others or insist on the absoluteness of an opinion, much less press erroneous assertions. This is particularly true at DePaul, which strives to be an institution in which the values of all faiths and all peoples are held in high esteem.

That does not mean that every person at a university needs to agree with the ideas of every other person. The opposite is true. The university must serve as a forum at which individuals are able to express contrary ideas, debate opposing positions, challenge assumptions, press areas of the unknown, and consider unimagined possibilities. Vital to such a forum is the climate of openness.

On Sept. 15, at the Loop Student Involvement Fair, these assumptions were violated. The students perspective was dishonored and their freedom demeaned. Individuals were deeply insulted.

Our college acted immediately by removing the instructor from the classroom. This is a part-time faculty member, whom the university contracts for individual courses. He has no further responsibilities with the university at this time.

In my meeting with the students on Sept. 23, I apologized to them for the insult and disrespect they had endured, acknowledged the seriousness of the offense, and informed them that this teacher had been removed from class. I repeat that apology now. I sincerely regret the assault on their dignity, their beliefs, their individual selves, and I continue to be saddened by the fact that they have experienced such pain at the hands of a person who taught at my school, which has defined commitment to social justice as one of its core values. Indeed, our mission says: “SNL deliberately works to shape a more just, livable world; to ensure that those who have historically been ignored, excluded, marginalized, oppressed and economically disenfranchised benefit from the many learning opportunities available through SNL and beyond.

In its curriculum, its classroom environments, its assessment practices, its advising strategies, and its formal advocacy, SNL creates an intellectual and social milieu where a plurality of worldviews, cultures and value systems are respected, understood, encouraged and appreciated.”

This event is not simply history. As Father Holtschneider said in his note sent to nearly 28,000 faculty, staff and students, it is our individual responsibility to remain vigilant about how our actions and words affect other members of our community. We have much to do.

Sincerely, Susanne Dumbleton Dean,
School for New Learning"

Now some commentary: First of all, Klocek never attacked the religious beliefs of the Palestinian students; he was referring to the Steinberg column. Secondly, who is Dean Dumbleton to say which beliefs are "erroneous." And was the freedom of those students really demeaned?? Was it really??? Someone raised their voice in front of them!!!!

Now, accounts vary on what Klocek said about the "legitimacy" of the Palestinian people. If he did, and I said, if he did say that there is no such thing as a Palestinian, admittedly, that is a controversial statement--but within the realm of academic discussion. At least I think so. Read here for more subject of a Palestinian homeland.

Not everyone is going to agree with what's written in the above link. But then again, I think far fewer people will agree on what the far more controversial Norman Finkelstein writes. Norman is a DePaul University political science professor. Scroll down a bit, you'll learn more Finkelstein here. According to writer Steven Plaut, Finkelstein is "most famous for his comments justifying Holocaust Deniers: "'Indeed, the field of Holocaust studies is replete with nonsense, if not sheer fraud,'" according to Professor Finkelstein.

Finkelstein is still on the faculty of DePaul University. I wonder how many DePaulia articles there are about Finkelstein?

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