I think they call this “doubling down.”
Here is Mark Berkson at The Chronicle of Higher Education:
On September 12, Hamline University held a forum on academic freedom. The forum was presented as a response to the incident that occurred last year involving the teaching of a work of Islamic art containing a 14th-century image of the Prophet Muhammad in a world art history course. A religiously observant Muslim student complained; the administration called the lesson “undeniably … Islamophobic” and failed to rehire the instructor, Erika López Prater. These actions were widely criticized across the political spectrum and around the world.
The American Association of University Professors conducted an investigation and concluded that the professor’s conduct in the classroom “was not only justifiable and appropriate on both scholarly and pedagogical grounds; it was also protected by academic freedom. The Hamline administration was wrong to characterize this decision as … ‘Islamophobic.’” (After the media firestorm, the president and board chair issued a statement acknowledging that the use of the word “Islamophobic” was “flawed.”) Hamline’s administration, the AAUP report stated, had an “inaccurate and harmful understanding of the nature of academic freedom in the classroom.” The report called out the administration’s “de facto campaign of vilification” against the professor and criticized its failure to extend due process to her.
It has been almost one year since the classroom incident, and despite the damage to the university’s image, there has been no internal inquiry. Not a single administrator has issued an apology or taken responsibility. Instead, Hamline’s administration — after having had a long period to reflect on the media response, the AAUP report, and the statements of outraged faculty — organized “Academic Freedom and Cultural Perspectives: Challenges for Higher Ed Today and Tomorrow.” Despite its promising title, the event — which included introductions from David Everett, Hamline’s chief diversity officer, and Fayneese S. Miller, Hamline’s president; and a keynote address by Michael Eric Dyson — was essentially a full-throated defense of the administration’s actions against López Prater. Of the four panelists who convened after the keynote, only one, David Schultz, was drawn from the Hamline faculty. (Unsurprisingly, he alone seemed to evince any skepticism about the administration’s actions, albeit in a rather indirect way.) The others — Stacy Hawkins, of Rutgers Law School, and the antiracist activists Tim Wise and Robin DiAngelo — did not discuss the controversy in any substantive way.
The event was opened by David Everett, who had said, last year, that the act of teaching a work of art in a classroom after having given many content warnings in writing and in the classroom was “undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful, and Islamophobic,” thereby setting the entire debacle in motion. Everett said these things about a faculty member who was teaching her class in accordance with the standards of her profession and who did nothing wrong, and hesaid them without ever talking with the professor or even exchanging emails with her. Nor did Everett, in his handling of the student complaint, ever bring López Prater and the student together in a room to discuss the issue, surely a “best practice” for a diversity office. López Prater, Everett said, was “no longer a part of the Hamline community” in light of her actions. In the right institutional context, this classroom event could have been a powerful “teachable moment.” But Hamline’s leadership, which in the past has advocated the approach of “restorative justice,” decided to be retributive.
Next up was President Miller, who was eager to note that she did not see this event as a defensive move, “but rather an offensive” one (with the stress on the first syllable). Miller’s insistence that “this is not defensive” foreshadowed an event that was, in many ways, highly defensive.
Miller’s comments at the event were clearly directed at the faculty, who, she said, “continue to teach in ways that are more likely to mirror the educational experience that we endured.” When we exercise academic freedom, she said, we must “still see who is in our classrooms.” And she advised us that faculty must “not treat [students] as cattle to be prodded and moved in the direction we want.” The real threat to academic freedom, she concluded, occurs in places like Florida and Texas. “It is not being threatened that way in Minnesota. It is not being threatened that way at Hamline University.” Miller fails to see that there are many ways that academic freedom can be threatened. Despite the important differences, there is a key similarity between much of what is happening in places like Florida and Texas and what happened at Hamline last year. In both instances, a particular religious or ideological viewpoint is being used in an attempt to deny everyone in the community the opportunity to see certain material.
Read the rest here.
Wow! We covered the original story here.