How’s this for a teachable moment?
A professor at Connecticut College wrote a Facebook post in August comparing Hamas to a “rabid pit bull” and justifying Israel’s blockade. A student complained about it in February. The prof took it down and apologized to those who thought he was slurring Palestinians.
Now he’s on leave, accusing his antagonists of “deliberately trying to silence and even threaten pretty much the only Jewish professor on campus who openly advocates for Israel,” Andrew Pessin tells WTNH.
That’s not all – the school cancelled classes Monday and required students to attend events for a “campuswide conversation on racism, equity and inclusion,” and now its social media policy is under review, by the school’s own account.
The speaker list included “George Lipsitz, professor of Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara, and Barbara Tomlinson, professor of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Barbara.”
Students are gushing how appreciative they are:
“Diversity education is not an afterthought. A liberal arts education should be — it isn’t yet — it should be about diversity education. It should be about inclusion and equity,” [Associate Professor of Religious Studies David Kyuman] Kim said. “We want to not run away from, but run right into the culture of racism that we live in. Don’t let language fool you; try to understand it. Try to understand the way that language makes certain folks suffer.”
Kadeem McCarthy ’15 was one of many students who spoke during the all-campus events. He credited his professors with helping him understand the meaning of marginalization.
“It’s putting people in a margin; it’s putting people to the side; it’s making them other,” he said.
The school claims it only scheduled the mandatory forum after a second racially charged incident happened – “a racial slur found scrawled in bathrooms in the student center” on Sunday.
By the school’s own admission, several departments have already released statements against “hate speech.”
President Katherine Bergeron literally wrote this:
“As your president, I will not tolerate forms of racist or hateful speech designed to demean, denigrate, or dehumanize.”
The PR story on the mandatory forum interpreted that as: “Throughout the discussions, Bergeron has maintained strong support for the free expression of ideas.”
That’s debatable – the school is reviewing its social media policy and “protocol for bias incidents,” as well as creating a “community council” so well-meaning professors can be harassed in fewer than six months.
The school also seems to think it can preempt racial slurs scrawled in bathrooms by reviewing “security procedures” in campus buildings.
IMAGE: Mary Madigan/Flickr