Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

University of Georgia prof defends faculty protest

Janet E. Frick, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Georgia,  has written an op ed piece explaining why some UGA faculty signed a petition in opposition to the selection of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as the graduation speaker for the UGA 2008 Spring commencement.

Basically Professor Frick argues that the UGA faculty just can’t take it anymore.  This past academic year the university has gone through one sexual harassment scenario after another.  And the good professor feels

The UGA community has been hungry for leadership on this issue. The selection of a commencement speaker who was embroiled in arguably the most public sexual harassment case in history – for this year’s commencement – demonstrates neither leadership nor sensitivity.

The leadership and sensitivity not displayed have been by Michael Adams, president of UGA.  According to Frick, a sensitive UGA president would not have selected “any speaker embroiled in controversy about sexual harassment – yes, that includes former President Bill Clinton – would be seen as an ill-advised choice this year.”

In the dankprofessor’s opinion, Professor Frick’s advice is not good advice for the UGA or for that matter any university.
Such advice reflects a descent into the culture of comfort.  Being committed to comfort and sensitivity will almost always be at odds with a culture of controversy and dissent, a culture which should be a part of any campus.

The rationale for avoidance of controversial speakers or the suspension of academic freedom is almost always justified under the mantel of offense or sensitivity or under the argument that some campus group can’t tolerate the speaker or the controversy. As for the argument that the faculty of UGA just can’t handle controversial speakers on sexual harassment, such is a very poor reflection on the faculty.  Maybe these faculty should resign if controversial speakers are too much for them to handle.

Janet Frick concludes her piece with the following statement- “I would like to see our president acknowledge that this decision was controversial, and defend the right of members of the UGA community to object to it.”

Of course, at this point in time it is obvious that the President’s decision was controversial; acknowledging it would be superfluous.  And as for defending the right of members of the UGA to object to it, is it not taken for granted at UGA that the right of objection by faculty and others is axiomatic?  If persons are attempting to suspend such a right then Professor Frick should publicly identify these persons.

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

 

 

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April 26, 2008 - Posted by | academic freedom, ethics, higher education, political correctness, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, speech, University of Georgia

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