Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Manchester Union Leader
CRAFTY COLLEGE and university professors have figured out how to intimidate their students and get praised for it. Thankfully, some students are no longer standing for this.
By manipulating public respect for the First Amendment, some professors disguise intellectual pressure tactics as mere expressions of opinion offered in the spirit of open debate. What they are really doing is using their positions of authority to bully students into agreement. And for this they often are praised by their peers and bosses.
Take, for example, Keene State Professor David Stowell, who has some 15 political statements (left-wing, of course) displayed on his office door. The anti-war slogans (such as “How many Iraqi children did we kill today?”) angered Shane Calchera, a veteran who happened to have Stowell as a professor.
Calchera alerted the college that Stowell was creating an atmosphere that amounted to harassment of veterans. If Calchera’s door had been plastered with anti-woman slogans, a student would have won easily. But making veterans feel bad about themselves by calling them baby killers is still considered OK on campus. Calchera lost.
Stowell, in turn, has filed a complaint with the ACLU, saying, “I was investigated because of my political views because someone objected to them, and that’s frightening.”
No, professor, you were investigated because you used your position to create a climate of fear. There is a huge difference between stating your views on your own time and using public property and a position of authority to badger people whose academic destinies you partially control.Professors, no matter their political views, ought to act like professionals and refrain from political sloganeering in the workplace. It is a breach of decorum, even if done with the most innocent motives. It is deliberate intimidation of subordinates (students) when done with malice. Of course, removing open politicking from professors’ offices and the classroom will never happen. So at the very least professors ought to consider the effect their proselytizing might have on students who disagree with them and do it with the utmost tact — assuming they have any.