Firing the whistle-blower (philosophy of governance)

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The termination of Daniel Pollack-Pelzner could set a precedent that would eviscerate the foundational principles of both free speech and faculty governance

EXCERPT: The case of Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a noted Shakespearean scholar [...] has quickly drawn attention to how a university administration and its Board of Trustees can feel entitled to bypass due process and substitute for it corporate protocols that even as such seem ethically problematic. Pollack-Pelzner, who has been a sharp critic of Linfield’s responses to sexual harassment and who has raised serious charges of anti-Semitism, has been fired for being “insubordinate.”

As reported in The Oregonian, Pollack-Pelzner is known as being “a public advocate for students and faculty who had complained about alleged sexual abuse by board trustees.” He has also publicly reported instances of anti-Semitic statements by Linfield president Miles Davis.

In an article about Pollack-Pelzner’s firing, Inside Higher Ed quotes from an email that Provost Susan Agre-Kippenhan sent to the campus community, explaining that Linfield had taken “the extraordinary step of terminating the employment of a member of our faculty for serious breaches of the individual’s duty to the institution.” This raises the question not only of what Linfield believes an “individual’s duty to the institution” might be but also what duty Linfield, as an institution, has to its faculty, staff and students. These questions cut to the heart of the educational mission.

In this case, the relationship between these obligations is entirely skewed. Linfield has denied Pollack-Pelzner a hearing, it has denied him due process and it has denied him the right to appeal. All on the basis of its own administrative judgment. This case has all the earmarks of a whistle-blower being silenced for being too insistent in their complaints...

[...] It is clear that Pollack-Pelzner’s complaints are reacting to, rather that causing, deep and perennial troubles at Linfield. Instead of addressing its own defects and shortcomings, Linfield has terminated Pollack-Pelzner both as a punishment for his publicly holding the university responsible and as a warning to every other member of the faculty.

In its April 28 letter to Linfield’s president, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, asserts,

"Linfield’s process-free termination of Pollack-Pelzner cannot be reconciled with the robust procedural protections it promises its faculty. It is also difficult to square Linfield’s actions with the university’s strong policies committing it to protect its faculty members’ freedom of expression, which shields Pollack-Pelzner’s speech unless it falls into one of the narrow exceptions to that rule. Linfield’s express refusal to turn over the matter to independent review by Linfield faculty heightens our concern that the university cannot demonstrate that Pollack-Pelzner’s comments are unprotected defamation."

FIRE underscores the lack of due process... (MORE - details)
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Cynical Sindee: Other members of faculty, staff, etc across the country have been immediately dismissed or fired slash asked to resign later after clamor by students and social media for speaking their opinion on matters that challenged or critiqued some _X_. If another thought orientation faction remains reserved, mute, or even approving about that can of snakes being released, then it should be no surprise such precedents of circumventing due process are eventually applied to it by the administrations of institutions.

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