By Professor Doom
Some time back I wrote of an amazing abuse by administration. An Art Professor posted a picture of a child doing a yoga pose while wearing a legally licensed Game of Thrones t-shirt. The kangaroo court system convened and UNANIMOUSLY determined that this constituted a threat of violence against the school.
Yes, unanimously: three adults with graduate degrees sat down, carefully looked at the picture of a child wearing a t-shirt that anyone could buy in a store…and became afraid, very afraid. While the gentle reader might find such idiocy unbelievable, I was at a place where 9 different advanced degree holders demonstrated incapability of making basic arithmetic calculations, even with a calculator (one was an accounting teacher, too). So, I buy the story as the administration presents it…I’ve certainly seen similar incompetence with my own eyes.
The professor was suspended and forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation, and admin wouldn’t back down from their claim that his picture constituted a legitimate threat of violence against the institution. I’m not kidding.
“Saying that Bergen Community College’s punishment of Francis Schmidt ‘may have lacked basis’ is like saying that King Joffrey may have been a less than ideal ruler,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE helped Schmidt find legal representation.
--King Joffrey, a character from Game of Thrones, is a demented murderous child-king, played with extraordinary creepiness by a talented young actor.
Well, I’m sure the professor figured out that he was not going to get anything resembling fair treatment within the institution’s laughably bad court system, and got a lawyer to help. Resolution is achieved, but as always, the press release misses the issue:
--click on the link if you want to see the “threatening” picture
Wait, what? This was a free-speech case? I suppose in some small way it was, but the reality is this was an administrative abuse case. Keep in mind, this guy was tried, convicted, and punished with no chance to defend himself in anything resembling a due process—he didn’t even know he was on trial until he received notice of punishment! I’ve been on the business end of such treatment, myself, and I assure you it’s no fun at all. The administrative stranglehold on higher education really is at the point that a picture of a little girl wearing a t-shirt can be used as justification to get rid of someone.
There are some larger questions here than free-speech. There really needs to be someone asking “why is administration able to set up kangaroo courts like this where the defendant doesn’t have a slight chance in the system no matter how flimsy and contrived the evidence?” On top of that, we need to start looking into ways to stop the everyday administrative abuse of higher education.
Please understand, if admin can suspend and force psychological evaluations on an educator at whim, debasing education to the point of complete fraud is no challenge at all. It’s rather why many institutions, especially community colleges (where this took place) and for-profits, are frauds.
Anyway, the professor got a lawyer and threatened to take things to the public court system. Admin, realizing they wouldn’t be able to contain their abuses to their rigged system, had the community college back down in a fairly humiliating way. They wrote a nice letter to the professor indicating that, yeah, maybe there was a slight overreaction here. Ya think?
Feel free to give the letter a read, but let me read between the lines a bit.
“By sanctioning you as it did, BCC may have unintentionally erred…”
Because administration is in absolute power, they never, never, admit wrong, but this line is just pure laughable lies. See, BCC formed a committee for their kangaroo court…that wasn’t unintentional. BCC acknowledged that the committee was unanimous in saying that the child’s t-shirt constituted a reasonable threat. That wasn’t unintentional, either. Then having reviewed the “evidence”, the committee passed judgment of psych evaluations and suspension. That wasn’t unintentional, either.
The kindliest interpretation of these events is that most of the administrative staff at BCC is wildly incompetent, and now they’ve documented their incompetence thoroughly. The more reasonable interpretation is that admin was just seeking to hurt this guy and found something convenient. Either way, the administrators involved should all be fired…or at least suspended pending psychological evaluations. It goes both ways, right? Yeah, right.
That’s not happening, so you can bet the other words in this letter are equally insincere:
“…the incident shall not be considered in any future BCC decisions concerning your employment, including without limitation any decisions relating to promotion…”
Yeah, that’s crap. Professor, you need to polish up your resume and start sending it out, because the administration at BCC is coming for you. I’ve seen multi-year vendettas by admin against faculty, and it’s not pretty. If the professor goes to the bathroom during his office hours, admin will use that as grounds for termination (I’ve seen it). If a student lodges even an idiotic complaint along the lines of “he didn’t say hello quickly enough”, admin will put that in the file (I’ve seen it), and use that as grounds for termination. If retention rates fall below a certain level, a secret level set by admin, that can and will be used for termination (I’ve seen that, too). Secret committees might form and pass judgment against you based on secret evidence, and you can be sure no administrator will put a name to anyone on the committee (I’ve seen that, too, and so have you, professor, so heed my advice).
“…we ask simply that you abide by the rules, policies, and procedures that are generally applicable…”
Hmm. How’d that work out for him this time? The rules, policies, and procedures of the kangaroo court system found him talking to a psychiatrist while he was suspended without pay. On the other hand, threatening to take things to the (real) courts nullified the kangaroo campus court rulings instantly.
And, even in this, he’s in trouble. Next time around he finds himself victimized by the kangaroo campus court system, he’s naturally going to say “screw this, I’m getting a lawyer again…”, and the wording of this letter will be used to terminate him.
I’m not saying the US legal system is great shakes, mind you, but compared to the totally rigged system of the campus courts? It’s practically Nirvana, and most faculty, being minimally paid, just don’t have the resources to take things to the courts.
Enjoy your success, professor, and I hope you find someplace legitimate to go; from personal experience and much direct evidence, I recommend avoiding community colleges.