Free Speech Endangered Again

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) may have actually latched onto a case in which the first amendment rights of a left-wing professor are genuinely at risk. “Loretta Capeheart is a professor of Justice Studies at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) who alleges that the administration retaliated against her for defending the rights of students protesting on campus,” John K. Wilson writes on the academe blog. “A federal district court dismissed her case in a summary judgment, invoking the Supreme Court’s infamous Garcetti v Ceballos ruling to argue that public colleges can punish professors for statements related to their official duties.”

The AAUP has filed an amicus brief arguing against the court’s ruling.

“Capeheart sued her university after she was denied appointment as the duly recommended chair of her department,” Ezra Deutsch-Feldman wrote in academe online. “She alleged that the administration refused to appoint her to the position in retaliation for her support for two students who had been arrested by campus police while protesting CIA recruiters at the university’s job fair and for statements she made blaming excessive administrative spending for budget problems that she claimed contributed to the low number of Latino faculty members on campus.”

More problematic is the question of whether she used those attitudes in grading her students. Some of the comments posted by anonymous students on Rate My Professors.com indicate that this may have been a problem:

  • “She plays major favoritism and will find any reason not to give you an A,” one reviewer wrote
  • “She is so into going against the government in everything,” wrote another during the Bush years.
  • “She is an extreme feminist, which creates a problem for males taking her class,” wrote yet another.
  • “Also, her political beliefs are expressed too much in classes in which they don’t belong,” another added.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org

 

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