Tuesday, May 12, 2020

  • Tuesday, May 12, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
This story has a happier ending but it should never have happened to begin with.

Nicholas Damask, chair of the political science department at Arizona’s Maricopa County Community College, has a world politics class that includes a module called “Islamic Terrorism.” In that module students were asked whom terrorists “strive to emulate,” which Islamic verses encourage terrorism, and when terrorism is justified in Islam.

One student (whom I bet is not a Muslim)  complained that this was disrespectful to Islam. Unbelievably, the college agreed, and wrote one of the most craven apologies I've ever seen:

Earlier this week, a student at Scottsdale Community College took a quiz as part of the class coursework. The student expressed concern over the wording of three questions related to Islam on the quiz.
SCC senior leadership has reviewed the quiz questions and agrees with the student that the content was inaccurate, inappropriate, and not reflective of the inclusive nature of our college. SCC deeply apologizes to the student and to anyone in the broader community who was offended by the material.
SCC Administration has addressed with the instructor the offensive nature of the quiz questions and their contradiction to the college’s values. The instructor will be apologizing to the student shortly, and the student will receive credit for the three questions. The questions will be permanently removed from any future tests.
We applaud the student for bringing this to our attention – and encourage any student or employee to speak out.
SCC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in our programs or activities. We value inclusiveness because we all benefit by embracing a diversity of voices, viewpoints, and experiences. SCC cultivates success when individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds are respected and empowered to contribute.
Chris Haines
Interim President
Scottsdale Community College
Professor Damask felt that he was being targeted and that his own job was in jeopardy for teaching the course his way - and there was nothing inaccurate about his course from what I can see.

As The College Fix reports, "The college committed the trifecta of censorship with this course of action, violating not only the First Amendment and core tenets of academic freedom but also state law protecting faculty against compelled expression of 'a particular view.'" 

Only after the threat of legal action did the college apologize.
...I am troubled by what appears to be a rush to judgement in how the college responded to the controversy and the apparent failure to follow policy and procedure in addressing both the student’s concerns and the faculty member’s rights. I apologize, personally, and on behalf of the Maricopa Community Colleges, for the uneven manner in which this was handled and for our lack of full consideration for our professor’s right of academic freedom.

To avoid rushing to judgment a second time, I am announcing the immediate independent investigation of the facts related to this situation. I expect this to be completed with all deliberate speed. Upon conclusion of the investigation, I will ensure appropriate accountability wherever any failures occur. Also, to clear up misinformation, the MCCCD Governing Board is not currently involved in an investigation of the professor, nor does it plan to initiate one.  Furthermore, it is important to note that the faculty member involved is not in jeopardy of losing his position.  

Today, I am announcing the formation of the Committee on Academic Freedom, to be led by Provost Karla Fisher with members identified by the end of the week, to champion academic freedom education and training and to resolve academic freedom disputes in the hope of ensuring this fundamental academic value is better understood and realized alongside our longstanding commitment to the value of inclusion.
It should never have come to that. The reflexive idea that the questions were anti-Muslim without discussing this with the professor, and the pressure for him to apologize, is outrageous. To think that only the threat of a lawsuit made the college do the right thing does not say much about the value of the apology. 

(h/t Andrew Pessin)




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