In the ongoing saga of Thomas Klocek, an adjunct professor at DePaul University in Chicago, at least until recently, we can see the double standard that governs higher education today, even in nominally private schools run by religious orders.
Essentially, Klocek was fired for making pro-Israel statements to students from two campus groups—Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and United Muslims Moving Ahead (UMMA)—at a student activities fair. As near as we can determine, there are two competing sets of claims of what happened at the fair, those of Kocek and those of the students.
The school’s administrators chose to believe the latter set of allegations. Problematic though such an approach may be, it would at least make clear the boundaries of free speech and acceptable conduct at the Catholic university, that is, if that standard were applied across the board. A look at available information from DePaul indicates that such a consistent benchmark is not in place.
Compare, for example, the school’s treatment of Klocek with its defense of another resident academic at DePaul—Norman Finkelstein [pictured]. Finkelstein, a political science professor at DePaul, has called Nobel laureate Elie Weisel the “resident clown of the Holocaust circus.” Nonetheless, Finkelstein lectures with the full support of the school fathers at DePaul, although, like Klocek, his students’ evaluations of his teaching are mixed.
“Seems like this guy is here just because DePaul needs a nationally known faculty member,” one anonymous reviewer writes of Finkelstein on ratemyprofessor.com. “Unfortunately, he is known for all the wrong reasons.”
“Uses class to test out speeches he will make at some other university alongside other radical professors.”
A careful review of the ratings on other professors at DePaul not only turned up other instructors who take the “My way or the highway” approach to their subjects but also lecturers whom students have filed complaints on for substituting their political biases for old-fashioned book learning. These political preachers, unlike Klocek, continue to give their lectures unmolested, even when students suggest that their middle-aged professors require adult supervision.
“I can’t believe some school actually awarded her a Ph. D.,” one student wrote of Education professor Enora Brown. “It would do DePaul and humankind in general a huge service to fire her immediately.”
“Good luck getting a high grade in her class if you’re white.”
As for Klocek, he has come to the conclusion that appealing directly to DePaul to reverse its canceling of his classes is fruitless. Consequently, Klocek is suing the university.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.