Education faculty group defends calling student 'neo-fascist'?

Lincoln Journal-Star:
The American Association of University Professors said Tuesday the University of Nebraska-Lincoln violated academic due process used by institutions across the country in ending the employment of lecturer Courtney Lawton on Nov. 17.

Hans-Joerg Tied, the national organization's associate secretary, wrote in a letter to UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green that conflicting accounts regarding the end of Lawton's employment indicate the university violated the graduate student's academic freedom.

Lawton has said she was removed from her teaching duties as a safety precaution after she was filmed referring to an undergraduate student recruiting for Turning Point USA as a "neo-fascist" and making an inappropriate gesture toward her at the Nebraska Union plaza in August.

After a November meeting between university administrators and three lawmakers at the Capitol, Lawton was informed her contract with the university would not be renewed at the end of the school year. Green told her she would no longer teach at UNL "because of this inappropriate behavior."

AAUP said "a suspension which is not followed by either reinstatement or the opportunity for a hearing is in effect a summary dismissal in violation of academic due process," a procedure it says is also outlined in NU Board of Regents' policy.

"In addition to the evident procedural issues, we remain concerned that Ms. Lawton was suspended in response to her speech as a citizen, raising questions whether the action infringed upon her academic freedom," the letter states. "These questions remain unresolved in the absence of affordance to Ms. Lawton of any academic due process."
Shouting insults at students is not a matter of academic freedom.  It is not even acceptable adult behavior in an academic setting.  In response to this story Sam Baldwin made the following comment:
Sam Baldwin
The UNL Discrimination and Harassment Policy states "It is the policy of the University of Nebraska to administer all of its educational and related supporting services in a manner which does not discriminate based upon ... political affiliation." The English Department faculty includes 33 registered Democrats, 1 Libertarian, and no Republicans.  This stark imbalance creates a strong inference that the English Department is discriminating in its hiring decisions on the basis of political affiliation in violation of UNL's Discrimination Policy. NU President Hank Bounds should immediately appoint an independent investigator from outside the NU system to investigate whether the English Department (and other similarly unbalanced departments) are violating the UNL anti-Discrimination Policy.

The comment was not well received and someone had it removed from Facebook for reasons that are unclear.  I think that it can also be argued that the student was discriminated against because of his political affiliation.  Does the harassment policy allow students to be subjected to be insults because of political affiliation?

Also, who is responsible for the lack of political diversity on this faculty.  It is this lack of diversity that leads to treating people with different points of view disrespectfully.


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