21.12.14

AN ATTEMPT TO UNDERSTAND ADMINISTRATIVE ARBITRARINESS AT MARQUETTE.

John Protevi argues that Marquette Warrior's John McAdams exceeded his authority as a professor in calling out graduate assistant Cheryl Abbate for the way she managed a classroom discussion.  He also offers an explanation for the non-suspension-suspension the university imposed on Professor McAdams.
As to Marquette's current course of action, I find it troubling, but I would hazard a guess at to their motivations, based on a presumption that university administrations use a risk management rationality: MU may think that their risk of losing a Title IX suit or OCR complaint claiming that they did nothing when a student was subject to the creation of a hostile work or education environment was greater than the risk of their losing a wrongful discipline case by McAdams, as well as the cost to their reputation if people cast this as an academic freedom issue and the cost to their donor base by alums who take McAdams's side.

The above is an explanation, not a justification. The university's risk management calculations might converge with normative values if one feels that a claim of academic freedom does not excuse the creation of a hostile environment for a student.
Put another way, the national government have an unlimited war chest the Office of Civil Rights can draw on.  Or there are two principles that come into conflict.  That is, in higher education, one ought not rule ideas out of bounds lightly, and one ought not call out the apprentices harshly.

His next observation, however, perplexes.
Finally, there is the question of what we are to make of McAdams's role in the hate mail that Abbate received? Can McAdams just say "hey, I didn't write that hate mail"? This seems a recipe for enabling harassment by proxy, for clearly none of the vile creatures harassing Abbate would ever have heard of her if it weren't for McAdams.
True, Ms Abbate did not inject herself into public debate with a conspicuous display of moonbattery, the way Michigan's Susan Douglas did.  On the other hand, it's possible that Ms Abbate might have been called out by College Fix or No Indoctrination or Accuracy in Academia or Rate My Professors anyway, leading to what Professor Protevi calls harassment by proxy, an interesting locution to describe the sending of grouchy electronic mails or the posting of blog comments to somebody who says something you disagree with after you find a story that sets you off, which might not be hard to do on a website laden with politically correct shibboleths.

I further suspect that without National Review or Inside Higher Ed picking up the story once Marquette's administration stepped in it, public interest in the story might not have gotten beyond Ryan Road.

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