“…the dean of faculty’s office has never informed me of a single complaint, though I had repeatedly asked in the fall for her office to detail what complaints, if any, students had filed against me.”
Christopher Nadon, a teacher at Claremont McKenna College, threatened to keep him from teaching required courses because he quoted Huckleberry Finn during a discussion about…censorship.
Nadon wrote in The Wall Street Journal that he quoted the book to show why the censorship case of Huck Finn was more complicated than just taking it off required reading lists.
Nadon used a quote from the book with the N-word. A student raised the issue with a dean who wanted to talk to him about these “concerns.” He wrote:
Instead, the dean enlisted the help of both the department chairman and a co-director of the college’s Open Academy program—a resource center that describes its purpose as “to counter the forces that are pulling us apart with educational strategies that bring us together”—to ban me from teaching any required courses in the future, seemingly into perpetuity.
I was informed by these other faculty that the discussion of “Huck Finn,” reading the forbidden word aloud from the autobiographical “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” and alleged complaints for making arguments on all sides of contentious issues such as the equality of the sexes, formed the basis for the dean’s decision. But I can’t be sure, because the dean of faculty’s office has never informed me of a single complaint, though I had repeatedly asked in the fall for her office to detail what complaints, if any, students had filed against me. Instead, Ms. Antecol kept the process secret and played the role of investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury.
On July 13, I filed an internal grievance for violations of the college’s published policies. That process has yet to run its course. I can report that two weeks after that filing, when it was apparent that my case and other similar ones would become public, Ms. Antecol decided to permit me to teach in the fall one of the two courses she had taken away from me and given to adjuncts.
The administration’s behavior toward me and two similar cases in the literature department seem to show that CMC sets the bounds of faculty speech arbitrarily. This spring, a literature adjunct read aloud and asked students to discuss a passage from “The Color Purple” that contained the N-word. They complained. Ms. Antecol summoned the adjunct, who apologized and agreed to undergo recommended counseling. The professor submitted to re-education and training in critical race theory. Despite all this—and a glowing recommendation by the faculty member who observed her course—the class the adjunct was set to teach at CMC in the fall was abruptly canceled.
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