A college or university’s geographic location in America’s heartland may not lead to a moderate balance among its faculty or in its course offerings.
At Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, Criminology professor Gary Webb wins rave reviews from students and even peers on the faculty. Yet he hasn’t received a raise in nearly a decade and continually fights back efforts to cut his course load.
“I am a Republican and I am employed as an Associate Professor at Ball State University,” Dr. Webb writes. “I have not received a raise of any type in eight (8) years, not even a cost of living raise.”
“Consequently, while many receive raises larger than the Indiana legislature advertises at Ball State University, there are some of us who receive no raise.”
Not one of Dr. Webb’s student evaluations on RateMyProfessor.com indicates any effort on the professor’s part to proselytize in the classroom. The same cannot be said of other professors at Ball State.
By way of contrast, George Wolfe’s training is in music, specifically on the saxophone. But Wolfe teaches at Ball State’s Peace Studies Center. When a student of Wolfe’s, Brett Mock, complained of the leftward drift of the course he was taking, the administration at Ball State sided with the saxophonist.
In like fashion, Health and Sexuality teacher David Marini (pictured) can give his lectures undisturbed. His students should be so lucky. His web site claims that Dr. Marini “specializes in the areas of human sexuality, research design and statistics, and instructional design for education.”
The university web site description of his course promises an examination of “health aspects of human sexuality and family life with a focus on human reproduction, physiology of sexual response, sexual disorders and dysfunctions, sexually transmitted diseases, promotion of sexual health, and the family’s role in sex education.”
As part of their homework, students in Marini’s class are expected to do something that they find to be an uncomfortable activity, such as going to a sex toy store or catching a show in a strip joint. Marini throws in condom demonstrations: According to one of his students, “He put a condom on a glass dildo, then put the dildo in his mouth.” That student told me that in a recent lecture, “You had to put a condom on a dildo before you could get out of class.”
Melissa, the wife of Dr. Webb, is currently an undergraduate at Ball State. She is understandably upset that Marini gets the raises that Ball State denies her husband.
Perhaps part of the reason for the disparity lies in the special culture of Ball State. Perhaps not too surprisingly, Ball State’s gay student group holds a campus-wide “coming out” week every year.
Against that backdrop, Dr. Webb is well to the right, politically, of most of the professoriat there, or anywhere else for that matter. For example, the Peace Studies Center at Ball State is named after Benjamin Cohen, who worked in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. Cohen also worked as the law partner of another New Dealer, the politically-connected Tommy Corcoran. FBI wiretaps indicate that Cohen consistently urged his partner to try to halt the U. S. Government’s investigation of Soviet communist agents’ attempts to steal sensitive government documents.
When not practicing the saxophone, Peace Studies Professor Wolfe lives up to the more-than-vaguely anti-American origins of the Center by making attendance at anti-war rallies mandatory for his students.
Webb pointed out in a lawsuit he filed several years ago that his troubles at Ball State began in the 1990s. Back then, he remembers, he brought to the attention of the provost, Wynola Richards, credible allegations of sexual harassment of students by other faculty members. When Webb, then single, was dating Richards, she acted on the cases. When their relationship ended, so did her interest in the charges.
Giving a pass to the suspects gives another meaning to the term “academic freedom.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.