Marquette University's non-suspension suspension of John "Marquette Warrior" McAdams is being compared to standing on a weak hand by two different observers.
First, the legalities, from Gregory Scholtz of the American Association of University Professors.
Given the facts reported to us, it is difficult to see how members of the academic community would perceive Professor McAdams’s continuing to teach as constituting a “threat of immediate harm” to himself or others. Nor are we aware of the administration’s having consulted a duly constituted faculty body at Marquette University about the propriety of the suspension or its conditions.The administration's action doesn't come as a surprise. For years, the administrative mind-set has been (1) Perpetually Aggrieved find something offensive (2) Administration denounces the offense (3) and then determines what really happened. Meanwhile, fraternities suffer the consequences of double-secret probation, and professors serve non-suspension suspensions.
Wisconsin's Donald Downs, a regular campaigner at Minding the Campus, connects the administrative high-handedness to the proliferation of speech codes and harassment policies, which serve to protect the Perpetually Aggrieved.
Some critics have disapproved of the manner in which the student surreptitiously recorded his conversation with the teacher. And, of course, genuine and strong disapproval is merited regarding the threatening emails some very misguided individuals have sent to the instructor in the wake of Professor McAdams’ disclosure of the conversation. I share such disapproval. But three facts should be noted in relation to these critiques. First, Professor McAdams had no hand in making this recording. Second, to my knowledge he has made no threats of any kind to the instructor or to anyone else. Third, the topic addressed in Professor McAdams’ blog commentary addresses an important issue in higher education today: the status of intellectual diversity and free thought on campus. Numerous supporters and practitioners of higher education have expressed serious misgivings about the way in which improperly expansive harassment policies can stifle free discussion of sensitive intellectual and moral topics. Professor McAdams’ critique in this case dealt with this important concern.The administration's linking of Marquette Warrior posts with the opprobrium visited on the graduate student is sketchy in any event. In a world of social media and Rate My Professors, there's plenty of opportunity for dissenting, disgruntled, or simply disgraceful students or observes to identify faculty and graduate assistants who let their freak flag fly, and have at them.
I sincerely hope that the suspension of Professor McAdams is in no way related to the fact that he has publicly criticized the way the University has dealt with harassment training and free thought on campus. Unfortunately, the severity of the punishment, in conjunction with the due process problems associated with the infliction of this sanction, raise questions in this regard.
Marquette administrators have not yet, to my knowledge, responded to these messages or lifted the non-suspension suspension.