Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Colorado College persists in persecution of CC students

I have previously posted on the absurd decision of the Colorado College administration to persecute Colorado College students by equating student parodying with student violence.  When FIRE entered the case, I was hopeful that the Colorado College administration would see the light. However, as reported in FIRE’s latest update on the case, such has not occurred.  The FIRE press release in its entirety follows.

Colorado College Denies Appeal of Students Responsible for ‘Violent’ Parody

 COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 28, 2008-Colorado College has denied student Chris Robinson’s appeal of its finding that he and another student violated the school’s “violence” policy for posting a flyer that parodied a flyer of the Feminist and Gender Studies program. The school also has decided not to remove any letters about the case from the students’ files until after graduation. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is assisting Robinson in his case against the school.

 “First, Colorado College trampled over Chris Robinson’s right to engage in an obvious parody, and now the school has further embarrassed itself by denying his appeal,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “The judicial procedure was a joke: the same administrator who found Robinson guilty in the first place was the final judge of his appeal. FIRE calls on Colorado College to remove this guilty finding once and for all from the students’ records. As long as they are deemed guilty for engaging in satire, the school’s extensive promises of free expression are brazen misrepresentations.”

 In early 2008, Colorado College’s “Feminist and Gender Studies Interns” distributed a flyer called “The Monthly Rag,” which included a reference to “male castration,” an announcement about a lecture on “feminist porn,” and an explanation of “packing” (pretending to have a phallus). As a parody of “The Monthly Rag,” Robinson and a second student, who wishes to remain anonymous, distributed a flyer in February called “The Monthly Bag” under the pseudonym “The Coalition of Some Dudes.” The flyer included references to “tough guy wisdom,” “chainsaw etiquette,” the shooting range of a sniper rifle, and a quotation about “female violence and abuse” of men from the website batteredmen.com.

 Shortly thereafter, Colorado College President Richard F. Celeste sent out a campus-wide e-mail declaring that “The Monthly Bag” included “threatening and demeaning content, which is categorically unacceptable in this community,” and asking the “Dudes” to come forward. When they did less than an hour later, they were subjected to a three-hour hearing and charged with “bias” and violating the college’s values of respect and integrity.

 FIRE wrote to Celeste on March 21, 2008, pointing out that any punishment would contradict Colorado College’s own policies and advertised commitments to free expression, including a policy that states, “On a campus that is free and open, no idea can be banned or forbidden. No viewpoint or message may be deemed so hateful that it may not be expressed.”

 After the “Dudes” faced penalties including expulsion for three weeks, Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students Mike Edmonds finally wrote to the “Coalition of Some Dudes” students on March 25, stating that they had been found guilty of “violating the student code of conduct policy on violence.” The punishments included having the finding of guilt placed in their student files and being required to hold a forum to “discuss issues and questions raised” by their parody. Although Edmonds acknowledged that the intent of the publication was to satirize “The Monthly Rag,” he wrote that “in the climate in which we find ourselves today, violence-or implied violence-of any kind cannot be tolerated on a college campus.” According to Edmonds, “the juxtaposition of weaponry and sexuality” in an anonymous parody made students subjectively feel threatened by chainsaws or rifles.

 Robinson appealed Edmonds’s decision, but the final judge of the appeal was Edmonds himself. Robinson was notified on April 21, in a letter dated April 11, that his appeal had failed and that the finding would remain in his student file until he graduates.

 Also on April 21, the Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, Adam Kissel, spoke on campus to some controversy. Posters announcing his speech were found to have had the words “Political Science Department” scratched out from the line “sponsored by the Political Science Department,” although that department did invite Kissel to speak.

 “Colorado College should declare the students innocent immediately,” Kissel said. “FIRE will continue to pursue this case until these students’ records are completely cleared of any alleged wrongdoing. President Celeste still has a chance to do justice in this case.”

 FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty at Colorado College and at campuses nationwide can be viewed at thefire.org. 

Adam Kissel, Director, Individual Rights Defense Program, FIRE: 215-717-3473; adam@thefire.org

Richard F. Celeste, President, Colorado College: 719-389-6700; president@coloradocollege.edu

Mike Edmonds, Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students, Colorado College: 719-389-6684; medmonds@coloradocollege.edu

Nancy Woodrow, Secretary, Board of Trustees, Colorado College: 270 Bushaway Road, Wayzata, Minnesota 55391




April 28, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, Colorado College, ethics, higher education, sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

University of Georgia president and composer withdraws Clarence Thomas invitation

Blog readers, I have surreptitiously obtained a pre-release copy of a letter from the renown composer and President of the University of Georgia, John Adams to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas withdrawing an invitation to Judge Thomas as the UG commencement speaker.  The letter follows, expletives are deleted.

Dear Justice Thomas,

It is with a deep sense of regret that I now write to you withdrawing my invitation to you to be the graduation speaker for the Spring 2008 UGA commencement.  Such is no easy task for me.  But as President of a great university I must be responsive to the concerns and issues raised by the UGA faculty.

As you know, the University of Georgia has been subject to a number of sexual harassment cases this past academic year.  And as it has been pointed out by Psychology Professor Pamela Pick and many others, having a speaker such as yourself as a commencement speaker cannot help but bring to the surface angry feelings concerning these cases.  No matter that you have denied being involved in any form of sexual harassment, no matter that you have never been charged with sexual harassment, no matter that you had been thoroughly vetted by the US Senate on this issue as part of your confirmation process for the U.S. Supreme Court, I must give priority to the sensitivities of the faculty and students of the University of Georgia.  Priority must be given to the facilitation of a campus culture of tranquility and comfort.  Adversarial debate and discussion certainly has its place in the courts of our great land, but an adversarial campus culture can only function to hinder education and lead to a hostile learning environment.

And very importantly I find that the UGA faculty is genuinely bitter about your speaking at UGA.  Unquestionably an ignored faculty will become  a bitter faculty.   And it is in this context that I tell you that terminating your invitation in the name of our faculty, provides our faculty with something to believe and in the present case they can believe in themselves, that they can make a difference.  As you know, Justice Thomas, all people need something, some idea, some ideal to cling to.

As for myself, I must confess to you that this whole process has been very disheartening for me.  The truth is that I initially selected another speaker, a speaker who had been a crusader for financial and moral justice in America.  And so I must tell you that I withdrew the invitation to Governor Spitzer in a state of complete shock.  Now to have to sacrifice a Georgia native son, a wise man of few words, an esteemed Supreme Court Justice who has even been featured on 60 Minutes, is a most burdensome task.

I also must tell you that in selecting a replacement for you as commencement speaker, I consulted with some of most erudite persons in America.  It should bring some satisfaction to you that in choosing your replacement I relied heavily on the advice of your colleague Antonin Scalia and TV newspersons Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric.  I selected a person who has become an icon for many in America and, has respect for the constitutional limits imposed on him which prevents his pursuing the dream of becoming President of the United States.  Finally, the fact is that he has a close working relationship with the Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, and has a long and continuing friendship with PBS magnet Charlie Rose, made this decision a bit easier for me. 

So I will be welcoming as the UGA commencement speaker, the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Most sincerely,

John Adams, Composer and President
University of Georgia

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

April 28, 2008 Posted by | ethics, higher education, political correctness, sexual harassment, sexual politics, University of Georgia | Leave a comment


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