Defamation suit against DePaul University may proceed.

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Defamation suit against DePaul University may proceed.

Post by pizza » Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:26 am

June 4th, 2006

The American Thinker

DePaul University Political Correctness Faces Trial
June 1st, 2006

Over a year ago we alerted readers to a very significant case involving outrageous abuse in the name of political correctness. Thomas Klocek, who taught at DePaul University for 14 years, was summarily fired for the “crime” of speaking to the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian mindset that has come to dominate the DePaul campus. A ruling yesterday cleared the way for a trial that promises to rip the mask of academic respectability off of a university that has behaved despicably.

A defamation suit was filed in Illinois’ Cook County Chancery last June charging that DePaul University and its leadership defamed Professor Thomas Klocek when DePaul publicly characterized arguments he presented to members of Palestinian and Muslim student groups as racist and bigoted. The suit seeks damages against DePaul for maligning Klocek’s integrity and professional competence. The defendants named include: DePaul University; Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, President of DePaul; and Susan Dumbleton, Dean of DePaul’s School for New Learning.

Yesterday, Judge Stuart Nudelman of the Illinois Circuit County Law Division Court agreed that Klocek’s claims have merit, which will allow his suit against DePaul to move forward toward a trial by jury. Klocek’s advocates characterized the Judge’s statements in court this way:

Judge Nudelman believes that DePaul’s actions to discipline Professor Thomas Klocek went to such extreme that their conduct rose to the level of defamation. He noted that DePaul exhibited destructive political correctness when it gave way to its fear of students’ reactions to Prof. Klocek’s challenges to the student groups’ literature and perspective on the Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Judge Nudelman also commented that if such limited debate took place when he was a student, it would have resulted in having an inferior educational experience.

Judge Nudelman also stated that DePaul’s public disclosures about Prof. Klocek defamed him in that they denigrated his ability to perform as a professor.

“We have cleared the biggest hurdle before trial. The judge has agreed with us that we have properly stated valid claims for defamation charges against DePaul and individual defendants, including DePaul’s president,” said Andy Norman, Klocek’s attorney with the law firm of Mauck & Baker.

Background of the Case

As reported by Richard Baehr in April last year, DePaul University in Chicago is one of the fastest growing universities in the country. It has become the largest Catholic-affiliated university in America. Muslim and Arab students are one of the segments of DePaul’s student population that has seen the greatest increase in numbers in recent years. Although no figures are available, these students are an important source of revenue for the University, and many may well pay full tuition, making their attendance particularly lucrative.

Klocek has lost his teaching position and school-paid health insurance benefits, and faces a bleak future due to his chronic health problems. He is guilty of a thought-crime, challenging the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel mindset which has come to dominate the DePaul campus. Klocek’s challenge to this new campus orthodoxy occurred in a cafeteria during a student activities fair last September. For 15-20 minutes, Klocek, who is Catholic, not Jewish, confronted a group of 8 students manning two tables for the groups Students for Justice in Palestine, and United Muslims Moving Ahead. Klocek says he argued that the materials the groups were disseminating were one-sided. On this, he is indisputably correct. Neither group pretends to provide balanced information on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. That of course, is perfectly understandable and acceptable. These are advocacy groups.

Klocek says the discussion was heated at times, and he admits to raising his voice. He says he told the students that Palestinians were Arabs who lived in the West Bank and Gaza – that they had no unique national historical identity. He challenged one student’s assertion that Israel was behaving like the Nazis. He stated that while most Muslims were not terrorists, pretty much all terrorists these days were Muslim. This statement had originally been made by the manager of an Arab news channel, and had recently been quoted in the Chicago Sun Times. It has the incidental merit of being true.

Clearly, the students were not used to such a challenge. DePaul in fact has gone out of its way in recent years to make the campus dialogue “safe” for Muslim and Arab students. The University administration warned the campus community after the September 11th attacks that offensive speech hostile to Muslims would not be tolerated.

But speech hostile to Jews, or Israelis, or for that matter, the great mass of Americans grieving and offended by the 9/11 attacks, was perfectly legitimate. While New York and Washington were digging up their 3,000 dead, Muslims students at DePaul were using the post 9/11 environment to publicly attack America and Israel for their crimes and policies at campus forums, paid for with student fees. The campus has welcomed representatives of the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad to campus. The scurrilous propaganda “documentary” Jenin Jenin has been shown on campus.

What is surprising at DePaul is that groups which might normally come to the defense of a beleaguered professor unjustly removed from his position have been quiet. The ACLU has been silent. The Illinois Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) did publish an article on the case in its Spring, 2006 newsletter, Illinois Academe, however.

The University wasted little time after hearing of the students’ complaints about Klocek. The students first met with their advisors and then with a series of University administration members. They said that he had insulted them and their religion and (imagine this!) acted as if he was right and they were wrong. DePaul accepted the charges in toto and without holding a hearing (to which Klocek was entitled) quickly suspended the Professor.

The Muslim students also sent out an email to a large population at DePaul declaring a fatwa on Klocek for insulting Islam. With the recent history of the murder of Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands, and the secret life of Salmon Rushdie for more than a decade since the Iranian fatwa directed against him, one might have expected DePaul to have viewed this email as possibly threatening to Professor Klocek, and as potentially criminal behavior.

DePaul has argued that they object to Klocek’s behavior, not to his speech nor to his views. This is nonsense. Susanne Dumbleton, Dean of the School of New Learning, Klocek’s boss, made the following priceless remark about the Klocek case:

“No one should ever use the role of teacher to demean the ideas of others or insist on the absoluteness of an opinion, much less press erroneous assertions.”

So what Klocek argued was erroneous (meaning of course that the pro-Israel position is wrong). But at the same time, no opinion should ever be argued as right or wrong (the absoluteness of an opinion). And no teacher should ever tell a student that he is wrong about anything. Make these three contradictory statements in one sentence, and you too qualify to be a dean at DePaul.

When she met with him, Dumbleton also told Klocek that the students were hurt and crushed by his behavior. She effectively accused Klocek of being a religious bigot and a racist with this comment:

“No student anywhere should ever have to be concerned that they will be verbally attacked for their religious beliefs or ethnicity.”

Dumbleton’s comment picked up on the theme of a student emailer who said the incident was a “racist encounter.” Accusing somebody who disagrees with you of being a racist is a very common technique, especially by those who lack history or facts to make their case. Apparently none of the students were so badly injured by Klocek that they missed classes due to their distress.

Dumbleton also accused Klocek of using his power as a professor, and therefore his power over the students, to force them to accept his views as true. But until the students asked, Klocek revealed nothing about his campus teaching role, and had no power relationship (professor with his students) to use against any of the student complainers. DePaul, in defending its actions, went so far as to argue that since Klocek was older than the students, that in and of itself, established a power relationship. Evidently older people are to be cautioned against disagreeing with their juniors, on the danger of wielding power. At DePaul, evidently the student inmates run the asylum, based on the principle of Bizzaro-world seniority.

As for forcing the students to accept his views as true, if that were indeed the case, then Klocek presumably should have stuck around until he forced the students to accept his views, rather than walk off realizing the discussion was not changing anybody’s minds (neither his nor theirs). Klocek clearly accepted that failure to ever agree. What the students seemed to resent, in his view, is that somebody on campus did not accept their views.

Dean Dumbelton said in an interview with the campus paper that she was

“deeply saddened by the loss of intellectual empowerment that the students suffered.”

She later wrote a letter to the same paper that the

“students’ perspective was dishonored, and their freedom demeaned. Individuals were deeply insulted.”

She said she had met with the students and apologized to them for the insult and disrespect they endured.

“I regret the assault on their dignity, their beliefs, their individual selves.”

Remember that these alleged abuses and injuries were all suffered as a result of one 15-minute conversation with Professor Klocek in the cafeteria. One wonders how the University might describe a rape or murder victim. Could such an offense to a victim be any greater than that supposedly suffered by the Muslim students who were forced to discuss their propaganda with somebody who did not agree with them?

The defamation suit now has a clear path to trial. Defendants include Dean Dumbleton, Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, President of DePaul, and the university itself. We will continue to cover the case, and can hardly wait for Dean Dumbleton’s testimony on the stand.


Thomas Lifson and Richard Baehr


http://americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=5540
Last edited by pizza on Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:43 am

Sic 'em, Prof!
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Post by Ralph » Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:26 am

Don't be surprised if this case is now quietly settled.
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Post by pizza » Mon Jun 05, 2006 7:03 am

From what I've read beyond the above article, there is more to it and Klocek will not steal quietly away just for a monetary settlement.

The issues raised by Klocek's firing include the powerlessness of adjunct faculty and the corporatization of universities, where students are viewed by the administration as customers and those who offend them will not be tolerated. There are also substantial amounts of Saudi money pumped into DePaul, according to some well-placed sources, and the school will go to great lengths to insulate a large Muslim student body from any perceived insults, whether real or fictional.

There is also the fact that DePaul, being a Catholic school in a city with a large Catholic population, has substantial local clout with the media. Until recently there has been very little local coverage of the issues, although the case is fairly well-known throughout the country and has been reported in many other metropolitan journals.

Klocek, and/or apparently those associated with him intend to make this case a cause celebre, especially since DePaul has no problem hiring anti-Semites and holocaust deniers such as Norman Finkelstein as tenured professors, or allowing academic frauds such as Ward Churchill to lecture there.

It will be an interesting case to follow.

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Post by Lilith » Mon Jun 05, 2006 7:18 am

Thanks for posting this interesting piece. I hope you will keep us informed with follow up developments in this case.

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Post by RebLem » Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:05 am

Well, I did a Google check on Prof Klocek. The lead story on this looks a tad suspicious to me on a number of grounds. First of all, in my Google check, I found nothing on it in any objective press journal except a brief story dated 2 JUN 2006 in the Chicago Tribune. It had only two pieces of information I do not remember from the lead article (I could have let something slide past me from that article.) One was that Prof. Klocek's field is medieval Slavic linguistics, and the other was that Judge Nudelman dismissed his claims of privacy violations.

So, the only things I can find on Klocek other than this one article are things in what one may call the advocacy press, like the one from which the article was drawn, and a couple articles from a Canadian Jewish site.

Somebody (Ralph?) is gonna have to tell me what an adjunct professor is. I am not sure. Now the interesting thing here is that when Barack Obama, whose campaign literature described him, among other things, as a law professor at the University of Chicago, I recall that various right wing organs (pun intended) which have a vested interest in discrediting any DEM candidate said he was just an adjunct professor, that this meant he was not paid, but was allowed to teach a course now and then, and that he was exaggerating his credentials. Now that the right wing has a vested interest in defending an adjunct professor (Klocek), we find out that DePaul paid him and that when he was fired, he lost medical benefits.

So, what is an adjunct professor, Ralph? Anyone else?

I would also suggest that perhaps Prof Klocek's dim employment prospects may have at least as much to do with the obscurity of his field as with his alleged political unacceptability. And another question occurs to me: Does Brandeis University have a Slavic languages program?

I really do not know whether the substance of the article is true or not. All I can do is look for internal inconsistencies, and my general knowledge of Chicago.

I do know this--anyone who wants to sue DePaul has a hard row to hoe, because 65% of the members of the Cook County bar are graduates of the DePaul University Law School.
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Post by pizza » Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:44 am

I don't know what "google" RebLem used, but if one types "Klocek, De Paul, Dumbleton, Holtschneider" into the one I used, you'll find more hits from a wide spectrum of sources than can possibly be read in the course of a day, almost all of them favorable concerning both Klocek's teaching history at De Paul during the 15 years of his employment, and extremely critical of De Paul's administration for the outrageous way he was treated. The blogosphere is the principal vehicle that brought this matter to the public's attention.

As far as his chances in the Cook County Court system are concerned, he'll do quite well. The percentage of De Paul lawschool grads practicing there, whatever it may be, is irrelevant and can't possibly influence the outcome of the case. He has competent counsel and there isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that they will exert anything less than their best efforts on his behalf.

From what I've read, Klocek's case is a winner all the way.

The following URL is a letter from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to De Paul concerning the Klocek matter. A review of the names of its directors and advisors listed on the letterhead mast dispels any notion of "right-wing" advocacy as the exclusive source of criticism of De Paul's attack on academic freedom.

http://www.thefire.org/pdfs/5669_3859.pdf

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Post by RebLem » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:20 am

To clarify, and expand--

I went to Google and limited myself to the News section. I entered Thomas Klocek and searched. I got 4 stories, the one in American Thinker republished here, two from a Canadian Jewish website, and the one dated June 2, 2006 from the Chicago Tribune. It is true that there are about 34,000 references in the Web section.

I found what looks to me to be a pretty objective report (this was after I read your response to my post, pizza) @ Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_E._Klocek
It has lots of links to other articles and reports, many in the student newspaper at DePaul. I urge everyone to read it.

"Facts" are in dispute, whereas the article posted at the head of this thread uncritically accepts Prof Klocek's version of the story. But, because it presents various versions of the story, I feel the Wikipedia article is almost certainly more accurate regarding what is at dispute, and what the different versions of the story are. It does appear to me from this article, which I am inclined to trust, that Prof. Klocek has been treated unfairly by the DePaul Administration, even if one assumes the most unfavorable statements about his behavior to be accurate.

Oh, and the point was that not only most of the lawyers, but most of the judges in Cook County are DePaul U Law School grads. I apologize for not having made that clearer. I am sure, as you say, that he has more than competent counsel.

In the meantime, I still haven't had any clarification on what an adjunct professor is or recieved any explanation, much less an acceptable one, about the difference in the definitions of an adjunct professor in the cases of Klocek and Obama.
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Post by Ralph » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:36 am

RebLem wrote:Well, I did a Google check on Prof Klocek. The lead story on this looks a tad suspicious to me on a number of grounds. First of all, in my Google check, I found nothing on it in any objective press journal except a brief story dated 2 JUN 2006 in the Chicago Tribune. It had only two pieces of information I do not remember from the lead article (I could have let something slide past me from that article.) One was that Prof. Klocek's field is medieval Slavic linguistics, and the other was that Judge Nudelman dismissed his claims of privacy violations.

So, the only things I can find on Klocek other than this one article are things in what one may call the advocacy press, like the one from which the article was drawn, and a couple articles from a Canadian Jewish site.

Somebody (Ralph?) is gonna have to tell me what an adjunct professor is. I am not sure. Now the interesting thing here is that when Barack Obama, whose campaign literature described him, among other things, as a law professor at the University of Chicago, I recall that various right wing organs (pun intended) which have a vested interest in discrediting any DEM candidate said he was just an adjunct professor, that this meant he was not paid, but was allowed to teach a course now and then, and that he was exaggerating his credentials. Now that the right wing has a vested interest in defending an adjunct professor (Klocek), we find out that DePaul paid him and that when he was fired, he lost medical benefits.

So, what is an adjunct professor, Ralph? Anyone else?

I would also suggest that perhaps Prof Klocek's dim employment prospects may have at least as much to do with the obscurity of his field as with his alleged political unacceptability. And another question occurs to me: Does Brandeis University have a Slavic languages program?

I really do not know whether the substance of the article is true or not. All I can do is look for internal inconsistencies, and my general knowledge of Chicago.

I do know this--anyone who wants to sue DePaul has a hard row to hoe, because 65% of the members of the Cook County bar are graduates of the DePaul University Law School.
*****

An adjunct professor is a part-time instructor usually hired to teach one or two courses a semester. He/she is not a regular faculty member and has no prospect of contract renewal or tenure. In many American universities and colleges adjuncts carry the heaviest part of the curriculum because they cost little (no benefits) and are highly replaceable.

At the law school level, adjuncts teach courses that full-time faculty have no interest in or which are highly specialized and for which a practitioner is the best teacher, e.g., Comparative Intergalactic Criminal Procedure.

Unionization of adjuncts has taken place at some universities and that trend continues.
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Post by Ralph » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:42 am

RebLem wrote:To clarify, and expand--

I went to Google and limited myself to the News section. I entered Thomas Klocek and searched. I got 4 stories, the one in American Thinker republished here, two from a Canadian Jewish website, and the one dated June 2, 2006 from the Chicago Tribune. It is true that there are about 34,000 references in the Web section.

I found what looks to me to be a pretty objective report (this was after I read your response to my post, pizza) @ Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_E._Klocek
It has lots of links to other articles and reports, many in the student newspaper at DePaul. I urge everyone to read it.

"Facts" are in dispute, whereas the article posted at the head of this thread uncritically accepts Prof Klocek's version of the story. But, because it presents various versions of the story, I feel the Wikipedia article is almost certainly more accurate regarding what is at dispute, and what the different versions of the story are. It does appear to me from this article, which I am inclined to trust, that Prof. Klocek has been treated unfairly by the DePaul Administration, even if one assumes the most unfavorable statements about his behavior to be accurate.

Oh, and the point was that not only most of the lawyers, but most of the judges in Cook County are DePaul U Law School grads. I apologize for not having made that clearer. I am sure, as you say, that he has more than competent counsel.

In the meantime, I still haven't had any clarification on what an adjunct professor is or recieved any explanation, much less an acceptable one, about the difference in the definitions of an adjunct professor in the cases of Klocek and Obama.
*****

Lawyers and judges in Cook County attended myriad law schools and in Chicago John Marshall Law School is at least as represented at the Bar and on the Bench as is De Pauil. No matter who the judge is, if the case goes to trial (which I tend to doubt), the jury will hear the evidence and decide the facts.

While some might think the perceived usual indifference or hostility of the mainstream media accounts for the lack of news reports, I find it strange that this case isn't covered, even - apparently - in Chicago papers. Perhaps its significance is limited to those with a specific partisan agenda.
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Post by pizza » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:44 am

RebLem wrote: It does appear to me from this article, which I am inclined to trust, that Prof. Klocek has been treated unfairly by the DePaul Administration, even if one assumes the most unfavorable statements about his behavior to be accurate.

Oh, and the point was that not only most of the lawyers, but most of the judges in Cook County are DePaul U Law School grads. I apologize for not having made that clearer. I am sure, as you say, that he has more than competent counsel.

In the meantime, I still haven't had any clarification on what an adjunct professor is or recieved any explanation, much less an acceptable one, about the difference in the definitions of an adjunct professor in the cases of Klocek and Obama.
All the articles, including the lead story posted herein acknowledge a factual dispute. That was never an issue because De Paul's position in the dispute has been clearly stated. It's the internal inconsistencies and self-contradictions within De Paul's various statements and positions that reveal its disingenuousness and thus its weaknesses. De Paul's position, even if accepted as true would not support its dismissal and defamation of Klocek.

Whether it's lawyers or judges, and I doubt the accuracy of your assessment concerning the weight De Paul's representation within the Cook County Bench and Bar, it would make no difference in any event. Only one judge will preside over the trial, and a jury consisting of zero percent De Paul graduates or affiliates will determine the facts.

An adjunct professor is one hired by the semester or quarter.

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Post by RebLem » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:53 am

Here is a long article on this indicdent, unfortunately undated, I found at a site I feel is reliable, called the Chicago Jewish News--

GAG ORDER: Is DePaul University silencing a professor for his pro-Israel views?

By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood

A part-time adjunct professor at DePaul University has been suspended over an argument he had last September with Muslim and Palestinian students concerning the Middle East situation and Israel's role in it.
The case has raised troubling questions both on campus-where many students and professors were not aware of it until several months after the fact-and off.

Did 58-year-old Professor Thomas Klocek "verbally attack" the students for their "religious beliefs and ethnicity," "demean their ideas," "dishonor their perspective" and "press erroneous assertions," as the school has charged? Or is it a case of "political correctness run amuck" at the nation's largest Catholic university, as another professor calls it?

Those questions may eventually be answered in court. Klocek (pronounced Klo-check), who has taught at the Chicago university for 15 years, has retained a lawyer, who says he intends to file a lawsuit against the school.

Klocek himself has also gone public about the case: On March 1, he participated in a press conference in which he stood in front of the school's Lincoln Park campus with his mouth taped shut and his arms and hands bound while his attorney read a list of demands.

As of now, he remains without a job and is in danger of losing his health insurance coverage as well.

At issue are events that took place during 15 to 20 minutes last Sept. 15, when Klocek attended a Student Activities Fair on DePaul's Loop campus.
Klocek has taught for the last 15 years at DePaul's School for New Learning, a special school for adult college students on the university's downtown Chicago campus. His courses have ranged from Critical Thinking to College Writing to Languages and Cultures of the World. By all accounts, he was a popular teacher and his classes were always full.
A Roman Catholic, Klocek has a keen interest in Middle East politics and problems, primarily through contact he has had with Catholic and other Christian groups in the region. He told Chicago Jewish News during several phone conversations that he has been particularly concerned with the fact that some Christians feel they are being pushed out of lands they consider to be theirs because of the tension and fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. Christians from these groups have told him that "many of them simply can't live with it, and a lot of them have left," he said.
He is concerned, he said, that "by the year 2020 or so, there may be no effective Christian presence in the Middle East whatsoever." He also believes that Christians "were in the Middle East eight centuries before" Muslims and that "they have the right to have some say, but often don't." Klocek also said he is sympathetic to Israel.

What happened, then, on the afternoon of Sept. 15 has been pieced together from accounts by Klocek, his attorney, John W. Mauck of the law firm Mauck & Baker, accounts from the school and from the DePaulia, the student newspaper, as well as from an e-mail account by Salma Nassar, president of the DePaul group Students for Justice in Palestine and one of the students who was involved in the incident. (Nassar did not respond to requests for an interview from Chicago Jewish News).

Here's what all the parties agree on: The trouble began when Klocek stopped at a booth run by Students for Justice in Palestine and one next to it from UMMA (United Muslims Moving Ahead.) He picked up some literature from the SJP table and read a sheet depicting the death of Rachel Corrie, the American activist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer when she tried to stop a house demolition in the West Bank town of Rafah.
The handout described Corrie as being "murdered by Israeli bulldozer" and went on to state that she "was deliberately ran (sic) over, twice, after a two-hour confrontation between the non-violent international activists and the Israeli armed forces."

Klocek said he turned to the student staffing the SJP booth and said, "You know, there's more than one perspective on the Middle East conflict. You're only presenting one side here."

Students at the booth "began to engage me in conversation," he said. Klocek expressed his belief that "strictly speaking, right now there is no such place as Palestine on the map. The Palestinian people were simply Arabs who lived in the West Bank and Gaza."

One of the women at the table told him that she was a Palestinian, then, according to Klocek, "she got up from the table and said, you know, the Palestinians are being treated by Israelis the same way Hitler treated the Jews."

"I took umbrage," Klocek said. "I told her that was an absolutely scurrilous statement, an absolute lie. I said that I believe the Israeli armed forces have exercised very careful restraint in their responses to what has been almost daily suicide bombings. There is a big difference between (Israelis) targeting a terrorist and someone strapped with bombs going in to a cafe or a seder and blowing up people."

Then, Klocek said, "the UMMA people began to come over. It was eight against one. A very spirited conversation" ensued.

Klocek said that when he felt the discussion was generating more heat than light on both sides, he decided that neither side was going to convince the other and started to leave. When a student asked if he had any connection with the university, he told her who he was and what courses he taught.

As he walked away, Klocek said, "students began coming after me, and I thumbed my chin at them. It's an Italian New Jersey expression meaning, 'I'm finished,' 'I'm out of here.'"

Some of the students involved had a different interpretation of the encounter. (Apparently students from the two organizations were the only ones present, and the account of events that differ from Klocek's account comes from them.)

Nassar, the SJP president, described the event in an Oct. 4 e-mail she sent to a number of campus organizations as "a racist encounter." She wrote that when students "responded to (Klocek) in a polite and professional manner ... he continued to make derogatory and racist comments," including making comments about how all terror attacks have been committed by Muslims. (Klocek said that he was quoting Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg, who in turn was quoting Abdel Rahman Al-Rashed, the manager of an Arab news channel, who stated that "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.")

Nassar went on to state that "we tried engaging Professor Klocek in conversation but he kept interrupting us and did not allow us to answer any of his questions." In addition, she wrote, "he continuously referred to Palestinians as 'those people' and went on to say that Palestinians 'do not exist.'"

She wrote that when Klocek was leaving, he "made an obscene hand gesture (he flipped us off.)"

Nassar wrote that she and other students from SJP and UMMA immediately reported the incident to the dean of students and the dean of the School of New Learning, as well as to the advisors of their groups. "Professor Klocek disrespected the student/professor relationship," she wrote. "It was completely inappropriate for him to approach students in an aggressive manner, his racist and ignorant comments about Muslims and Palestinians, and the profanity he used completely crossed the line." (Klocek admits that he "raised his voice" but denies using profanity.)

In an interview she gave to the DePaulia, the student newspaper, Nassar added that Klocek "was very aggressive and angry and would go from one topic to another. Every time we tried to address a topic he'd get angry and switch." She reiterated in the interview that his comments were "inappropriate and offensive."

Nine days after the incident, Klocek was called to the office of Susanne Dumbleton, dean of the School for New Learning. Dumbleton told him that she had received two letters, one each from SJP and UMMA, and that "there were very serious charges against me from the students," according to Klocek, who never saw the letters.

He said Dumbleton told him that she had met with the students and their faculty advisors from the two groups, and that they were "hurt and crushed" by Klocek's remarks. "They said you used your title as a professor and your power over them to force them to accept your remarks as true. The dean said she agreed with them," Klocek related. (Dumbleton did not respond to repeated requests for an interview with Chicago Jewish News.)

She then told Klocek he was suspended, with pay, for the remainder of the autumn quarter. She also advised him to stay off campus, which he did, and suggested that he not talk to the student newspaper, the DePaulia, Klocek said. (The school denies that the latter suggestion was ever made.)
Dumbleton did speak to the DePaulia about the encounter. In an Oct. 1 article headlined "Loop professor takes heat for conduct," she described the incident and added that Klocek's behavior was not typical, since he had had "an otherwise positive career of 15 years."

The article stated that Dumbleton "emphasized the School of New Learning's dedication to the core values of DePaul" and said she was "deeply saddened by the situation and the loss of intellectual empowerment the students suffered," adding that the university had made the decision to suspend Klocek. The writer added that "Professor Klocek was contacted Thursday afternoon but failed to respond for comment" before the newspaper's deadline.

Klocek said he was misquoted in the article as to his remarks to the Muslim students, noting that none of the students present had been taking notes, and added that there was no mention of the fact that Dumbleton had asked him not to speak to the DePaulia. (The editor and news editor of the DePaulia did not respond to a request for an interview from Chicago Jewish News.)

In the Oct. 8 issue of the DePaulia, Dumbleton wrote a letter thanking the newspaper for covering the incident involving Klocek, adding that during the incident, "the students' perspective was dishonored and their freedom demeaned. Individuals were deeply insulted." Klocek, she wrote, "is a part-time faculty member whom the university contracts for individual courses. He has no further responsibilities with the university at this time."

She added that at a meeting with the affected students, "I apologized to them for the insult and disrespect they had endured ... I sincerely regret the assault on their dignity, their beliefs, their individual selves ... "
Eight weeks after the incident, Klocek said, Dumbleton informed him by letter that he was suspended without pay for the winter quarter but would be allowed to teach one course during the spring quarter providing he would allow "unscheduled classroom observations of your teaching ... accompanied by follow-up meetings" with Dumbleton and other campus personnel.

Klocek said he could not agree to those terms. "To be supervised in the classroom is unheard of," he said. "If my behavior is so controversial, she had 15 years of my teaching to challenge me in the classroom. No one has ever done it. I have very favorable assessments from my students and hundreds of (favorable) letters from students, and the dean admitted it," he said. He added that many students called him at home asking when he would be teaching again.

Klocek and his attorney contend that his suspension was illegal since DePaul policy states that no faculty member can be fired or suspended without a hearing.

Denise Mattson, the university's assistant vice president for public relations and spokesperson for university president Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, said that the fact that Klocek met with the dean and Loop undergraduate director several times constituted a hearing. "The dean considers that she and the program director met within a hearing," she told Chicago Jewish News. "It's not like with a judge and jury but it is a hearing."

Klocek said that he has "decided not to quit, but to fight." He said he believes the case has important implications not only for free speech and academic freedom but for the treatment of university professors throughout the country who do not have tenure, noting that at several universities, Holocaust deniers have been retained on the faculty because they have tenure.

Mauck, Klocek's lawyer, said he will argue in a lawsuit that at DePaul, "if you say the wrong things, you're suspended. If I'm a Jewish student or professor there or a Christian even wondering if I can defend Israel, I would be wondering, when am I going to get suspended?"

He said that Dumbleton's letters and statements "talk about erroneous positions and the absoluteness of" Klocek's opinions. "He was suspended for the content" of his speech, Mauck said. "People argue all the time on campus. He hasn't got tenure and he's an easy person to kick around when there is a powerful constituency. They are worried about not offending people because they want students," he said.

Mauck said that he has asked for an apology from the school to Klocek and a full reinstatement to his former teaching position. Neither has been forthcoming. "As of now, there is going to be a lawsuit filed," Mauck said this week.

In response to a letter from Mauck in which he sought an apology from the school to Klocek as well as financial compensation for Klocek's lost wages, Shanon Shumpert, DePaul's associate general counsel, wrote that Mauck's letter gives an "inaccurate account "of the events. Shumpert added that the university stands by the actions that were taken, which, the letter states, were necessary "due to the inappropriate behavior, the disrespectful gesture, and the threatening attitude and conduct" Klocek exhibited.

"As much as you would like to make this a case of academic freedom, it is not. Klocek's actions are not protected speech, and his speech does not excuse any of his improper actions," the letter stated.

It added that Klocek may be able to return to the classroom if he provides the university with "some level of assurance that he acknowledges that the behavior and gestures were inappropriate." He also must "meet with the students and listen respectfully to their concerns regarding his behavior" and must apologize for his behavior.

Klocek said that he might be willing to have his classes monitored, but that now, with the additional conditions placed on him, he "feels that DePaul has fired him by continuing to put such conditions on his teaching that they know will stifle academic freedom," according to a communication from his lawyer sent this week. Klocek is preparing to file a grievance with the school's Faculty Council.

As for Klocek's health insurance (he has a kidney disease for which he must take medication), the school has offered to pay the employer portion of the premium under the COBRA plan until the end of June.
The university contends that Klocek's case "is not a case of academic freedom but a situation of inappropriate behavior outside the classroom by a university employee," according to Mattson, the university spokesperson, who reiterated in a conversation with Chicago Jewish News that "the university doesn't think it's about the content of the speech. It's about the behavior."

But the Jewish community, alerted to many instances of anti-Zionist and even anti-Semitic speech and actions on college campuses throughout North America, may take a different view. (Klocek said he did not contact any Jewish organizations about the incident because he was not familiar with any.) He added that he "does not want to make this (a case of) Jews and Christians against Muslims."

In Klocek's case, although several Jewish professors have sided with him, the organized Jewish community on campus has been curiously silent, whether because the professor is not Jewish or because of an atmosphere of intimidation, or for some other reason, it is impossible to say.
Ammi Dorevitch, executive director of Hillels Around Chicago, a consortium of Hillels at smaller local schools, and director of the DePaul Hillel, said that the organization was aware of the Klocek affair but had no plans to become involved in it.

"I see it as an issue between the administration and a faculty member," she said. "It's an administrative issue, not something Hillel would get involved in."

Rabbi Paul Saiger, director of Hillels of Illinois, agreed that "we decided to stay out of it. We don't know (Klocek), we never had any contact with him, we weren't present at the thing itself. He hasn't come to the Jewish community asking for help."

Rabbi Roy Furman, who teaches religious studies at DePaul, said he has not become involved in the situation because "I only know about it second or third hand, and my guess is that it is a contested situation; depending on which side you were on, you saw things differently."

He said he doesn't know if students feel free to take a pro-Israel position on the DePaul campus because "there are relatively few people who are in the moderate camp on either side. Those who are, get along with one another and those who aren't, don't. There are some students on campus who have families living on the West Bank, and they see and feel things from a different perspective. They may not be very appropriate in how they present things."

Jonathan Cohen, a professor of mathematics at the university, takes a different view, seeing the incident as something that sounds like "political correctness run amuck."

He said that when he read the article in the DePaulia about the incident, he contacted Klocek and spoke to him several times and also spoke to Dean Dumbleton. He said he first felt that "there were hints that she was not entirely happy" abut the situation nor "as much in tune with the students" as it later appeared. However, when he read her letter to the DePaulia, he felt she had hardened her position. "I'm thinking, oh my God, what does this have to do with the person I spoke to on the phone? This is slander," he said.

Cohen, who said he comes from a strongly Zionistic family but is himself "not a particularly strong Zionist and not a particularly Jewish- identified person," said that he believes students at DePaul "were buffaloed" over the incident. "There is a kind of aura of PC about the university," he said. "Most people are embarrassed by it. It is creepy."

In Klocek's case, Cohen said, "if you read the article about what actually transpired, you get a sense that what the students objected to was what he said, not how he said it." SJP and UMMA "overlap" on campus and "are producing documents all about Israel, hostile to Israel. There is no awareness of the fact that a lot of the suffering is being caused by the fact that (Palestinian terrorists) are blowing up pizza parlors. Otherwise there would be no checkpoints, none of this would have happened."

He recalled that after Sept. 11, the DePaul administration warned the campus community that offensive speech, especially speech hostile to Muslims, would not be tolerated. At a meeting during this time, some Muslim students spoke up against Israel and American foreign policy. "I was thinking, this is insane," Cohen said, adding that he was reminded of the incident when Klocek's case surfaced.

"Maybe Tom (Klocek) was a little bit aggressive, but I don't think these (students) were shrinking violets," he said. "I feel the school was very wrong. It was a terrible overreaction. I think they're giving the wrong message to the students." Speakers representing SJP, he said, "are incredibly one-sided and nobody complains about their politics." In addition, he said, speakers representing Islamic Jihad have lectured on campus and the film "Jenin, Jenin," detailing a known fabrication about the so-called Jenin massacre of Palestinians by Israelis, was shown on campus, and "nobody says anything," Cohen said.

"My perception is that at DePaul, people feel pressured to be anti- Israel," he said. "There is a lot of political pressure." He said that even the Jews in the campus community, including several deans and associate deans, "have to try to be progressive Jews, to support Peace Now and make a point of how much they hate (Israeli Prime Minister) Sharon."
When an incident such as the Klocek case comes up, he said, "other people sort of distance themselves from it and the school doesn't find constructive ways to deal with it."

Another Jewish faculty member, Morry Fiddler, a professor at the School for New Learning, while noting that he could not comment on the incident since he wasn't present, said that "my sense of the whole thing is there was a rush to judgment. The nature of the content is the kind of content that raises emotions." He said he has known Klocek for as long as he has been at the university and he has always been in good standing with the school.

Fiddler said that since he works only with adult students he has not seen any anti-Semitism or overt anti-Israel sentiment on campus, but that since DePaul is a Catholic university, "there is a prevailing view of the world." He noted that several years ago a student's room was vandalized and a swastika drawn on his carpet. The administration decided to deal with the incident internally and to keep it out of the news. "Was it a judgment call or suppression? I'm not sure," he said.

Rabbi Saiger, of the Hillels of Illinois, also said he could not speak to whether there was anti-Israel sentiment on campus. "On every campus things go up and down, back and forth, depending on which year, which semester it is," he said. At DePaul, "there is an active Muslim and Arab student presence, and at times, when they do a program or have a speaker, students may feel uncomfortable.

"Students have not complained about feeling uncomfortable in the classroom," he said. "I'm not saying that it doesn't happen at DePaul, but we haven't been approached with any instances of such occurrences."
Dorevitch, the director of the DePaul Hillel, said that Hillel is "working on building a relationship with the administration where we can productively address these issues and help create a safe environment on campus, an environment where we can dialogue. We are working on giving students the tools they need to be able to advocate for Israel."

Perhaps lending credence to the notion of an anti-Israel tone on campus is an art exhibit that opened recently at the library on the Lincoln Park campus. According to a negative article by a Jewish student associated with the campus Hillel in this week's DePaulia, it includes a picture titled "Rabin Policy" that the student, Shalva Geffen, describes as "a representation of what seemed to be the past Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, attacking Palestinian people." Geffen writes that the picture made Rabin, who, she notes, received the Nobel Peace prize, "appear brutish." The exhibit "also undermines the recent progress made by Sharon and Abbas" and "shatters any notion of cooperation," she writes.
She adds that she was shocked to note that many departments of the university were listed as sponsors of the exhibit.

Saiger described the exhibit as "rather anti-Israel and pro- Palestinian" and said it is "aggravating students. We're dealing with it in terms of education," he said. "We've been talking to students about it and talking about what kinds of (pro-Israel) programs we're going to have in the future."

In the same issue of the DePaulia is a story headlined "New major sheds light on Jewish faith." DePaul, it notes, is launching a new Jewish studies concentration within the current religious studies curriculum. It will take its place alongside the currently existing Catholic Studies and Islamic World Studies majors.

http://www.chicagojewishnews.com/archiv ... ?id=192612
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Tue Jun 06, 2006 8:46 am

The article above seems pretty balanced. I can't sort out the merits from afar.

As a general matter, undergraduate adjunct professors are a pretty powerless lot which is why at some schools unions have been successful in recruiting them (that applies to my school, Pace University, where undergrad adjuncts voted to unionize several years ago over vociferous management objections).

We'll see where this lawsuit ends up.
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