Friday, December 30, 2005

American Council of Trustees and Alumni blog on the "Scandal Fatigue" at DePaul

Second to last day of the year, and it's time for perhaps my last DePaul posting of 2005. A tipster sent this one my way.

From the blog of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni; the first two links go to Erin O'Connor's blog, the last to FIRE.

DePaul University deserves to be on the list of universities whose bad administrative behavior has been a repeated source of embarrassment this year.

Last spring, DePaul suspended adjunct professor Thomas Klocek for getting into an argument with some pro-Palestinian students who were promoting their views at an informational table. The students were offended that Klocek disagreed with their position, and filed a complaint against him. Without according Klocek the minimal due process of allowing him to face his accusers, and in blatant disregard for the free expression and open debate that is supposed to characterize university life, DePaul punished Klocek by removing him from the classroom and then defaming him. Klocek is currently suing the university for defamation of character.

This fall, DePaul confirmed the impression it created last spring: that it is a campus where a political double standard reigns supreme, and where individuals who do not subscribe to the university's official ideological orthodoxy are silenced and punished. DePaul paid political provocateur Ward Churchill thousands of dollars to come speak--but then punished the College Republicans when they sought to criticize both Churchill and the university's decision to invite him. When the CRs posted a flyer that protested Churchill's visit simply by citing Churchill's own words, they received a disciplinary warning and were banned from attending the follow-up discussion session with students Churchill had scheduled. When they protested this treatment, they were also banished from DePaul's Cultural Center.

DePaul has worked hard this year to shame itself publicly and to make it clear to all that it is not a university where a genuine concern for intellectual diversity and robust, open debate thrives. The university's culminating effort on this front was its bad faith response to FIRE when that organization intervened on behalf of the College Republicans. Misquoting school policy and misrepresenting the facts of the case, DePaul responded to FIRE that the university's actions toward the CRs was entirely consistent with school policy and that no wrong had been done. FIRE has gone public with the details now, after giving DePaul a substantial period of time in which to think better of its indefensible stance.

DePaul is now in for another fatiguing round of self-induced scandal. One might ask at this point what the university would do differently if it were actively trying to destroy its own reputation.

Incidentally, yesterday in the Chicago Tribune, free registration required, Kathleen Parker had a mainly negative column about bloggers.

This is the concluding paragraph:

We can't silence (bloggers) but for civilization's sake--and the integrity of information by which we all live or die--we can and should ignore them.

Well, speaking from my little corner of the blogosphere, the above paragraph is a load of garbage. The Klocek case is just one example of a story that has seen the light of day because of blogging.

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