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16/5/06
Dark Days in US Academe
 

Roosevelt University of Chicago, IL has fired a philosophy and religion professor for allowing students in his class to ask questions about Judaism and Islam. The chair of the department, Susan Weininger, fired the professor, Douglas Giles, saying that students should not be allowed to ask whatever questions they want in class. Weininger ordered Giles to censor his curriculum, restrict his students’ questions, and to not respond to controversial questions or comments from students.

Weininger said that free discussion in world religions could “open up Judaism to criticism.” Any such material, she said, was not permissible to be mentioned in class discussion, textbooks, or examinations. Further, she ordered Giles to forbid any and all discussion of the “Palestinian issue,” any mention of Palestinian rights, the Muslim belief in the holiness of Jerusalem, and Zionism. When Professor Giles refused to censor his students, Weininger fired him.

The Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization (RAFO) filed a grievance on behalf of Giles citing the faculty contract forbidding the university from restricting academic freedom. Roosevelt University Associate Provost Louis Love denied the union’s claim saying that Weininger was entitled, as department chair, to set a professor’s curriculum and that this was not an academic freedom issue, but a “pedagogical issue.” RAFO has appealed the ruling to arbitration, confident that Prof. Giles’ academic freedom was violated and an impartial arbitrator would find this so.

This case is just one example of a growing trend of right-wing attempts to censor the academic freedom of professors and students. Here, a department chair who called all Palestinians “animals” and says college religion courses should teach that only Jews have a legitimate claim to the land of Israel, has fired a professor whose only “sins” were refusing to teach a biased class and allowing open discussion in his classroom. This can NOT be allowed to stand!

Students of Professor Giles have started a Yahoo Group to connect activists nationwide who want to help us force Roosevelt University to end censorship and reinstate Giles. More information is available at:

groups.yahoo.com/group/foracademicfreedom/

     
 
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