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Marquette playing word games to deny it’s punishing conservative professor

Marquette University’s administration appears to be unfamiliar with its own faculty handbook, because it’s denying that conservative professor John McAdams has been “suspended.”

Without saying why, the university relieved McAdams of teaching duties and banned him from campus while still paying him. That action followed the professor’s outing of a younger colleague who muzzled a student from talking about gay marriage in class.

A spokesman told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that McAdams wasn’t “suspended” because the school is still paying him. He’s apparently accused of “behaving in an overtly discourteous, abusive or disrespectful manner toward a student” – the graduate teaching instructor whom he blogged about.

The problem is the faculty handbook explicitly provides for suspensions with pay, as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) notes. McAdams’ legal counsel has asked the school what his status is, precisely:

More fundamentally, if Dr. McAdams has not been “suspended,” what has happened to him? The University now says he is “under review”—a status that does not appear anywhere in the Faculty Statutes. While the University certainly ought to be able to investigate allegations against a faculty member, it would no doubt come as a surprise to tenured faculty that they may have their classes summarily cancelled and be banned from campus and from contact with their colleagues without any of the due process that the University has promised them.

FIRE calls BS on the school’s rationale for reviewing McAdams, whether it’s a suspension or not:

[E]ven when a student has willingly taken on the duties of a university employee and teacher and thus committed herself to upholding Marquette’s promises to its students, she can shield herself from criticism simply by claiming that it was “disrespectful.” While it is fine for Marquette to encourage professors to support and mentor students, the university cannot place such vague and broad restrictions on faculty speech simply because it is about a student instructor without compromising its commitment to freedom of speech.

Read the Journal-Sentinel story.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.