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Widener makes Top 12 List with Harvard, Yale, other elites

Widener makes Top 12 List with Harvard, Yale, other elites

That’s the Good News.

The Bad News – It’s a list of The 12 Worst Colleges For Free Speech In 2012 from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Widener joins such elite institutions of higher learning as Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Brandeis and Tufts.

Here’s the FIRE write-up of why Widener is on the list.  The story will sound familiar to readers of this blog:

In December 2010, tenured criminal law professor Lawrence J. Connell was banned from Widener’s Delaware campus and charged with numerous violations of the university’s Faculty Member Discrimination and Harassment Code. His crimes? Aside from allegedly using the term “black folks” (a choice of words that even President Obama uses), his real “offense” seemed to be his use of the name of Dean Linda Ammons in hypothetical classroom crime scenarios (a common practice in law schools). When a faculty panel recommended that this nonsense be dropped, Dean Ammons allegedly induced two law students to refile harassment charges against Connell, and added a new charge of “retaliation” for defending himself. Connell was cleared of all charges of harassment and discrimination, but found responsible for retaliation because he had explained his situation to his students!

Instead of restoring sanity here, Widener University President James T. Harris accepted Ammons’ recommendation that Connell be suspended for one year without pay and be forced to undergo a psychiatric or psychological evaluation before returning to Widener. Connell sued, and the case was ultimately settled out of court.

Congratulations Widener, you finally have made it into the top tier.


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When did attorneys become such lunatics?

    Estragon in reply to Tamminator. | March 27, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I, too, liked it better when they confined their activities to larceny, bribery, and buggery.

      Ragspierre in reply to Estragon. | March 28, 2012 at 7:37 am

      I know a lot of folks think that’s cute, and I certainly know some lousy lawyers, but…

      some of the most honorable people I’ve met…anywhere, doing anything…are attorneys.

      Just like, I hope, there are good people doing whatever it is you do.

    Ragspierre in reply to Tamminator. | March 28, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I’m telling you, law schools tend to be almost completely homogenized little cloisters of Collectivist dogma.

    And law school deans are some of the worst examples for the profession I’ve ever seen.

Liberals are all about “limiting principles” when it comes to speech they don’t like. When it comes to busybody government, not so much.

Can we expect UNC-Chapel Hill to be added to the next FIRE list?

Maybe Jim Hensen’s estate can sue Bar-Bri over all those squashed moppets.

Henry Hawkins | March 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I can think of half a dozen examples of why UNC-CH should be on the list ahead of Raleigh’s St. Augustine (though St. Aug earned its place too).

” Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

Cheerful in Marin | March 27, 2012 at 10:43 pm

As a past and current Johns Hopkins parent, I am familiar with the story about the Hopkins student and the Halloween party from a few years ago. It resulted in excessive punishment from a hypersensitive administration. Some push-back from students occurred and I think the school has found more reasonable ground.
Last fall, Karl Rove spoke on campus. He was met by uninvited Occupy hecklers from lovely downtown Baltimore. I was heartened that Hopkins students in general stood up for his right to speak (after all, Rove was an invited campus guest).
There are many apolitical, if not conservative, students on campus (especially in the science and engineering departments). The student satire newspaper also helps temper the PC groupthink.
There are plenty of more excessive PC schools, like Brown, Weslyan or Oberlin – sadly few alternatives to the liberal academic morass exist today, as all of us know.
However, I am pleased to say that in 2006, a Hopkins meteorology professor tipped us off to the up and coming fraud known as global warming. All of my Hopkins educated children remain conservative. Many of their school friends are conservative, too.

One more reason the federal government should be OUT of the education business, completely.

As an Alum, that’s not the top tier I would have liked to have seen the school reach, but alas, it’s not surprising.

Over the years, I’ve expanded my definition of a liberal from “someone who best knows how to spend my money” to include, “what to think and what to say”.

And they wonder why I don’t donate!

    I got hit with a stupid parking ticket which I appealed just before graduation. They forced me to pay the fine in order to graduate. When they denied my appeal after graduation, I didn’t send them a dime for years.

    You’d think they would be more sensitive but obviously they aren’t.

EricRasmusen | March 28, 2012 at 9:30 am

I saw your earlier post about the Connell settlement. I’ve wondered with those things— does the judge have to approve the Silence clause? Even if he did, would another court enforce it, or would it be rueld as invalid as against public policy?

    William A. Jacobson in reply to EricRasmusen. | March 28, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I haven’t seen the actual agreement, but in general a court would not need to approve the terms of a settlement between private parties (unlike in a class action). A court normally would enforce the terms if one party alleged a violation. It would be a high hurdle to show a violation of public policy merely from an agreement to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.

Why is Ammons still there?