U. San Diego Law Prof. Tom Smith Vindicated: Blog Criticising Chinese Government Held Protected By Academic Freedom
University of San Diego Provost: “we sought to determine whether the blog post at issue was protected by our policy on academic freedom. After a thorough legal review, it was determined that the expression was protected by that policy.
San Diego Law School Professor Thomas Smith was one in a long line of right-of-center professors targeted by student crybullies demanding termination and sanctions, to which adminstrators capitulate like cowards.
In the case of Prof. Smith, he wrote a blog post on his personal blog harshly and somewhat flamboyantly criticising the Chinese government for its handling of the coronavirus. Various students and student groups maliciously claimed Smith maligned Chinese people as an ethnic group. Despite the claim being preposterous based on a plain reading of the text of the blog post, law school Dean Robert Schapiro shamefully and shamelessly issued a statement condeming Prof. Smith and labeling the blog post as bias. The University of San Diego then commenced a bias investigation.
Your can read our prior coverage at these posts:
- U. San Diego Law Prof. Thomas Smith Harshly Criticized Chinese Gov’t, Now Faces False Claims Of Ethnic Bias
- San Diego Law School “Must Immediately Cease Its Investigation” Into Prof. Thomas Smith Over China Criticism, Demands Free Speech Group
- U. San Diego Law School blows off demand it stop investigation of Prof. Thomas Smith over criticisms of Chinese government
- Free Speech Group Rallies Support For Law Prof. Tom Smith, Under Investigation For Criticizing Chinese Government
In an unexpected development, the Provost of the University of San Diego actually did the right thing, announced that Prof. Smith’s expression was protected by academic freedom, case closed. While there was verbiage about being sensitive to others, there was no institutional condemnation of Prof. Smith of the sort that so often accompanies administrative defenses of academic freedom, like the highly personal attack on me by then Cornell Law School Dean Eduardo M. Peñalver.
Here is the text of an email sent by the Provost this morning (Pacific Time).
VICE PRESIDENT AND PROVOST
Statement from the Provost
Dear USD Community:
We recently received complaints relating to a post by USD Law Professor Tom Smith on his personal blog concerning the causes of COVID-19. The complaints alleged violations of various university and School of Law policies.
As a threshold matter, we sought to determine whether the blog post at issue was protected by our policy on academic freedom. After a thorough legal review, it was determined that the expression was protected by that policy.
This conclusion in no way amounts to an endorsement by the university of the opinions shared in the blog post.
Academic freedom lies at the core of the mission of the University of San Diego. At the same time, we are committed to providing an educational environment that honors the dignity of every individual. Those two commitments can and must co-exist. It is important that members of the university community exercise their freedom in a responsible fashion, attentive to the impact of their protected opinions and sensitive to all members of the community, especially those who may feel vulnerable, marginalized or fearful that they are not welcomed. Members of the university community may feel an obligation, and certainly have the freedom, to criticize opinions that they believe demean the dignity of others.
As a contemporary Catholic university, we have a responsibility to promote a safe, just and inclusive environment within the university and in the larger society. We recently announced The Horizon Project, a comprehensive five-year plan to take concrete action to build a more inclusive campus community. As part of that project, the School of Law has announced specific initiatives to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the law school community. This vital work is ongoing and will remain a focus for continuing and additional action by the university and the School of Law.
Gail F. Baker
Vice President and Provost
In a normal world, this would be the end. But it’s never over. I would not be surprised if the crybullies attempt some other action.
Prof. Smith should demand and get a full apology from Dean Robert Schapiro and the student perpetrators of this crime against academic freedom.DONATE
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