Monday, August 01, 2005
More Campus Free Speech Follies
WAYNE, N.J., July 20, 2005—William Paterson University in New Jersey has convicted student employee Jihad Daniel of “discrimination” and “harassment”—without due process—for describing homosexuality as a “perversion” in a private response to a professor’s unsolicited announcement of a university event that promoted a positive view of lesbian relationships.
Daniel’s “offense” took place on March 8, 2005, when he responded to an unsolicited e-mail from Professor Arlene Holpp Scala, chair of the department of women’s studies, about a viewing and discussion of a film described as “a lesbian relationship story.” Daniel privately replied to Professor Scala, requesting that he not be sent “any mail about ‘Connie and Sally’ and ‘Adam and Steve.’” Daniel went on, “These are perversions. The absence of God in higher education brings on confusion. That is why in these classes the Creator of the heavens and the earth is never mentioned.”
On March 10, Professor Scala filed a complaint with the university’s Office of Employment Equity and Diversity, accusing Daniel of violating university nondiscrimination policy because his message “sound[ed] threatening” and because she didn’t want to “feel threatened at [her] place of work when [she] send[s] out announcements about events that address lesbian issues.”
Director of Employment Equity and Diversity John I. Sims subsequently proceeded to “investigate” Scala’s complaint. On June 15, William Paterson President Arnold Speert wrote Daniel a letter of reprimand, stating that “the investigator concluded that since the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of ‘perversion’…is clearly a ‘derogatory or demeaning’ term,” Daniel therefore was guilty of violating state discrimination and harassment regulations. The president also wrote that the letter of reprimand would be placed in Daniel’s permanent employee file.