Cary, N.C.—Renegade professors and serious students hoping to buck the politically correct trend that engulfs academia and makes shared knowledge an endangered species may not find much refuge in their local community college.
Dr. Michael Filozof certainly found no sanctuary at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York. Married, with one daughter, the tenure-track political science professor at the school now faces imminent unemployment as a result of a scurrilous whispering campaign by two professors who found his political views (support for President Bush and for U.S. troops in Iraq) hard to take.
When Dr. Filozof placed an American flag sticker on his door with the sentence “I support President Bush” under it, he soon found another note placed nearby warning him that the sticker was “inappropriate.” Though anonymous, the note was on the stationery used by two professors whose entries in Professor Filozof’s personnel file constituted the only negative commentary on his job performance.
Those minority reviews led to the school’s failure to renew Dr. Filozof’s contract and were, in turn, based on misinformation and disinformation. “After one year [at Monroe], I was accused of sexual harassment by two left-wing faculty members,” Dr. Filozof remembers. “The accusers were a 60-year-old female and a 60-year-old gay male.”
According to Dr. Filozof, who looks far younger than his 39 years, their campaign did not end there. “They accused me of bringing a gun to school,” Dr. Filozof said at a conference on academic freedom that was held in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
The basis for that accusation? “About a year before, I had told a colleague that I was going hunting after work,” Dr. Filozof said. “Out of that, they concluded that I brought a gun to school.”
The onslaught succeeded. In December 2003, the school elected not to renew Dr. Filozof’s contract.
“The content of this case can be found in a three-inch thick folder, which outlines in great detail, the positive reviews and assessments by students and faculty members on behalf of Dr. Filozof,” one of his students, Nicole Giancursio, found. “This information praises the accomplishments of a skilled teacher, and reveals that in no way was Dr. Filozof negligent or incompetent, but that one or two of his colleagues did not like him, proceeded to mistreat him and lie about him, and then fired him over this personal vendetta.”
Dr. Filozof was not only Nicole’s teacher but the faculty advisor to the College Republicans chapter that she headed. His shepherding of the College Republicans, along with his skepticism about the effectiveness of affirmative action and his suspicion of radical Islam, doubtless added to the professor’s sins in the eyes of his detractors.
Nicole demonstrated admirable loyalty and tenacity, even bravery, in personally protesting Dr. Filozof’s dismissal at the expense of her standing at the school. She herself was cold-shouldered by every bureaucrat she contacted all the way up the academic food chain.
Nicole finally found an ally on the State University of New York Board of Trustees—the formidable Dr. Candace de Russy. Gracious, elegant and keenly intelligent, Dr. de Russy is everything that the media say Teresa Heinz Kerry is. Dr. de Russy, incensed by Monroe Community College’s treatment of Dr. Filozof, vows to bring up the issue every chance she gets and has, as usual, been true to her word.
Meanwhile, Nicole, who spoke at the same conference as Dr. Filozof and Dr. de Russy, decided that she has had enough of the political climate at Monroe and is transferring to a small Jesuit college. The last straw for her was when Monroe recently showcased a drag show (not to be confused with car racing).
The school newspaper ran a photo of the student government president offering a dollar bill to a drag queen stripper. At the same time, groups, such as the College Republicans, that keep their clothes and gender on, are left to beg the school for assistance.
For example, when Nicole went to school officials seeking support for a College Republican effort to send care packages to U.S. troops in Iraq, she was told, “We can’t get involved in anything that controversial.”
“We have been rejected by the school’s student newspaper after submitting a number of articles about our events, including the Maggie Brooks visit in which 130 people attended,” Nicole says. Maggie Brooks is Monroe County’s first female County Executive.
“The school has done little to promote our events, and does not effectively assist us in the same ways other groups are favored,” Nicole pointed out.
“Oftentimes, these subtle ‘mistakes’ carried out by the administration can include not posting a listing on the school’s web site that details our event (or posting it at the last minute after we remind them several times, or posting them with typos), or delaying the printing of our flyers, or incorrectly posting information regarding our events, etc.”
According to Nicole, other groups encountering similar problems include the Jewish Student Association and Brothers And Sisters In Christ. The treatment of the former is particularly interesting vis-à-vis the school’s support for, and funding of, the campus chapter of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), primarily known for the annual Islamic Awareness Day it promotes.
The national MSA is currently under investigation by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. The committee has asked the Internal Revenue Service for the group’s tax records in order to determine the MSA’s possible links to terrorism.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.