Friday, January 23, 2015

Marquette's Inexcusable Abuse of John McAdams

Without question, we made the right decision a few weeks ago when we chose to break our pattern of making an annual financial gift to Marquette University.

The sole reason for this break: Marquette University's inexcusable treatment of Associate Professor John McAdams.

Apparently, Marquette University President Michael Lovell believes that the harassment of John McAdams is appropriate. The allegedly Catholic institution is not backing down.

McAdams is banned from campus for writing an innocuous blog post. His second semester classes were cancelled for writing an innocuous blog post, alerting people to what INSTRUCTOR Cheryl Abbate did in her role as a university INSTRUCTOR. She refused to allow a student in her ethics class at this Catholic university to simply voice opposition to gay marriage. That seems to be the offense McAdams committed, identifying INSTRUCTOR Abbate.

("INSTRUCTOR" means that Abbate was responsible for teaching students, testing them, assigning them grades, and giving them credits toward their degrees. INSTRUCTOR Abbate most definitely held a position of authority at the university. Although she was a graduate student, she was also an EMPLOYEE of the university.)

Marquette is shaming itself with its stunningly inappropriate behavior. And Lovell is obviously overseeing the process.

On Wednesday, John McAdams posted on his blog, Marquette Warrior, the following letter from Dean Richard C. Holz:

January 2, 2015

Dr. John McAdams

Dear John:

I am writing in response to your request for additional information about what prompted the current review of your conduct by Marquette University. As you know, tenure and academic freedom carry not only great privileges but also vital responsibilities and obligations. In order to endure, a scholar-teacher’s academic freedom must be grounded in integrity, including a respect for others’ opinions and the exercise of appropriate restraint. Otherwise, those such as yourself who are invested with the power that tenure affords will intimidate and silence the less-powerful – especially students. Such intimidation and silence negates the very academic freedoms that tenure is intended to enhance. Your recent actions in publicizing on the internet the name of our now-former graduate student, who had been secretly recorded by one of her students [redacted], require University review. Whatever your views of this secretly-recorded exchange in the graduate student’s office, and whatever your thoughts about separate classroom interactions that you did not observe (and putting aside the multiple other ways any concerns you had about our graduate student could have been advanced) you had no justification to put our graduate student’s name in your internet posts. The personal impact on her was plainly foreseeable, as detailed (only in part) as follows.

As a result of your unilateral, dishonorable and irresponsible decision to publicize the name of our graduate student, that student received a series of hate-filled and despicable emails including one suggesting that she had committed “treason and sedition” and as a result faced penalties such as “drawing, hanging, beheading, and quartering.” Another note, delivered to her campus mailbox, told the student, “You must undo the terrible wrong committed when you were born. Your mother failed to make the right choice. You must abort yourself for the glory of inclusiveness and tolerance.” Accordingly, and understandably, the student feared for her personal safety and we posted a Campus Security Officer outside her classroom. In addition, as a result of your conduct and its consequences, she now has withdrawn from our graduate program and moved to another University to continue her academic career. You have been asked, advised and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts. With this latest example of unprofessional and irresponsible conduct we have no confidence that you will live up to any additional assurances on your part that you will respect and protect our students. Indeed, you specifically discussed in your blog the fact that your conduct would negatively impact the student’s opportunities in the future and you expressed pride in that result.

Accordingly, we are continuing our review of your conduct and considering all appropriate responses. As before, your salary and benefits continue. We also expect you to stay away from campus now that the “few days” you requested on December 16 have expired.

Richard C. Holz, Ph.D.
Sorry, Dean Holz, but you cannot portray Abbate as some helpless little student.

She was functioning as an INSTRUCTOR. Parents pay good money, LOTS of money, for every credit their children earn. Abbate had the power to pass and fail students, to give them credit or deny them. She served as an employee of Marquette University.

This notion that the university had to protect its student, Abbate, is absurd. She served as an INSTRUCTOR and must be held accountable for her behavior in that role.

Furthermore, McAdams is not responsible for any "hate-filled and despicable emails" sent to Abbate.

Rick Esenberg, legal counsel for McAdams, responded to Holz.

I am afraid that we are headed for litigation and continued controversy that I fear will profoundly damage Marquette.

The need for a response is bolstered by the article that appeared in Tuesday’s Journal Sentinel. In it, a university spokesperson says that Dr. McAdams remains banned from campus and implies that this is somehow necessary for the “safety” of students. I am normally not one given over to harsh adjectives, but this is preposterous.

In his letter, Dean Holz says, for the first time, that the allegedly improper conduct by Dr. McAdams was to identify Cheryl Abbate as the instructor who told a student that opposition to gay marriage would not be tolerated in her class. He does not claim that anything that Dr. McAdams said is false. He does not say that it was uncivil or constituted “harassment” under university rules. It was wrong, he says, because, even though Marquette made Ms. Abatte solely responsible for the class in question and placed her in a position of authority over undergraduates, she was still “only” a graduate student. As such, she apparently cannot be publicly criticized.
I hope students considering attending Marquette University are reconsidering.

I hope they and their parents understand that Marquette is unwelcoming and hostile to those daring to express the teaching of the Catholic Church. I hope they are aware that only certain opinions are tolerated on campus.

This is truly insane. It is inexcusable.

Marquette University, what are you doing?

I hope the Marquette community bands together to uphold the integrity of the university.

An important step is to withhold all support from the university until this matter is satisfactorily resolved.

No comments: