Repeatedly violated his written promises regarding free speech
When we asked the Catholic University of America last month why it suspended an assistant professor for her conservative tweets, the administration declined to comment on the professor’s claims.
Now he also freezes the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
It has been three weeks since the civil liberties group wrote to President John Garvey warning that his treatment of John Tieso constitutes a breach of contract, FEU said in a blog post on Monday. “Given the urgency of this matter”, he requested a request within three days.
“This response to extramural political expression, as offensive as it may be to its critics, is a marked departure from the university’s explicit commitments to free speech,” wrote Adam Steinbaugh, director of FIRE’s individual rights program.
Tieso got into trouble when a student at another university complained to the AUC about his supposedly racist tweets, including beatings against former President Barack Obama and Democratic Senator Kamala Harris.
Less than a week later – and after deleting his Twitter account, allegedly under the direction of his boss, Busch School of Business dean Andrew Abela – the university suspended Tieso.
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Steinbaugh reminded Garvey (left) of his own words on the “principles accompanying the freedoms of expression and inquiry in higher education” in the Catholic magazine Common good in 2017.
And the university has voluntarily pledged, in several places in writing, not only to tolerate free speech in the campus community, but to defend and to favor this. Despite its Catholic identity, the AUC promises not to stifle even discussions that offend Catholics: “freedom of inquiry, open discussion and unrestricted exchange of ideas.” [are] essential to the pursuit of knowledge.
Its accreditation also requires the university to demonstrate its commitment to academic freedom and free speech, Steinbaugh wrote. He noted that the Wisconsin Supreme Court had ruled against another private Catholic university, Marquette, for a similar sentence imposed on a faculty member in violation of his contractual rights.
Echo The fix (and contradicting WUSA9, which still has not corrected his false report about Tieso), Steinbaugh noted that the professor’s Twitter account did not violate AUC’s social media policy, as he never identified his affiliation with the AUC. Politics itself does not require ability to follow it but simply demand to follow him, Steinbaugh adds:
No reasonable reader would believe that Tieso’s Twitter account, full of charged political rhetoric, purported to represent the official positions of the university, or that Tieso is being used to present his views on Twitter. Indeed, extensive research on Twitter reveals that only one person had, until this month, learned that he was associated with the university, and others indicated that he did not know where he was teaching. .
The university itself has admitted that no one filed a formal complaint about Tieso (below) – his sentence is entirely separate from any allegation of “discrimination conduct” or even “offensive expression directed at any member of the university community, ”Steinbaugh reminded Garvey.
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As if everything before that weren’t enough, Tieso’s tweets are “a political expression on matters of public interest”, offering them the strongest protection under the First Amendment.
If the Supreme Court does not allow censorship of anti-gay activists holding military funerals with “Thank God for dead soldiers” signs, asks Steinbaugh, what could be the AUC’s justification for punishing Tieso for his critics – even if “vituperative, abusive”, and inaccurate “(in the language of another court ruling) – of a former president and sitting senator?
Universities that promise academic freedom to professors are not even free to launch surveys in their speech under the pretext of investigating allegedly “improper” conduct, the FIRE letter continues, citing a decision of the 2nd United States Court of Appeals on the “implicit threat of discipline” and “the resulting deterrent effect “speech-related investigations.
Garvey is expected to read his words less than three years ago, Steinbaugh writes, when the president distanced himself from the university of his in-house seminary following the latter’s decision to de-invite a pro-LGBT Catholic priest:
Campaigns by various groups to paint Fr. [James] Martin’s controversial speech reflects the same pressure from the left for universities to withdraw invitations to lecturers[.] Universities and their related entities should be places of free and civil exchange of ideas. Our culture is increasingly hostile to this idea.
FOLLOWING: Marquette got slapped in court for doing the same to a conservative teacher
The university must reinstate Tieso, drop all inquiries, treat him the same as any other faculty member tweeting, and “reassure him that his current and future relationship with the university will not be altered on the basis of an expression. past or future policy “, the letter concludes.
In Monday’s blog post, Steinbaugh opposes the AUC adversely to Rutgers University, which overturned its punishment of a professor for an anti-white Facebook post after FIRE called him out.
By refusing even to discuss legal issues with FIRE, the university has signaled to students and faculty that its “many written pledges to free speech are just lip service.”
As if students didn’t need another reason to consider taking a year off, those considering attending Catholic school “should think again”.
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IMAGES: Bumble Dee / Shutterstock, Catholic University of America, John V Tieso / Facebook