Cross-posted by Gary Fouse
UC Santa Barbara
The University of California at Santa Barbara has recently been embroiled in a controversy over sociology Professor William Robinson after he sent an e-mail to his students with images that compared the state of Israel to Nazis. Two offended students complained and an investigation was launched as to whether Robinson had abused his position to advance his personal views. Recently, the UC Academic Senate cleared Robinson.
June 24, 2009
TO: Prof. William Robinson
Department of Sociology
FR: Gene Lucas
Executive Vice Chancellor
Re: Charges Committee Findings
"I have received the report of the Charges Committee regarding charges brought against you. The Committee did not find probable cause to undertake disciplinary action in this matter.
I have accepted the findings of the Charges Committee. Accordingly, this matter is now terminated
Under the Campus Procedures for Enforcement of the Faculty Code of Conduct, "the complainant and/or faculty member complained against may request, in writing, from the Charges Officer, a summary of the Committee's findings." If you would like such a summary, please make such a request to Prof. Scharleman, the Charges Officer."
Amid the turmoil and intimidation that many Jewish students have encountered on several UC campuses as a result of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the issue of Robinson's free speech was upheld.
However, as an adjunct teacher at UCI, I would like to make a comment. What Robinson did is not new on US university campuses. Many professors routinely attempt to indoctrinate their students as to their own personal point of view. Some even go so far as to ridicule students in class who disagree and penalize them in grading. (I don't know if Robinson falls into that category or not.) In my view, it is unprofessional for a teacher to try and impose his or her personal political views on students in the classroom-or in the course of teaching their class-such as e-mails to students comparing Israelis to Nazis. I know a lot of academics disagree with me, but that's my opinion. While I have obtained a certain amount of notoriety on the UC Irvine campus for expressing my views in forums outside the classroom, such as rallies and letters to the campus newspaper-I always try to keep my personal views out of the classroom (English as a second language). And don't think a language classroom can't be infected with political opinions-as I learned while studying French with one professor at California State University at Los Angeles in the 1960s.
My students have no idea what I think of the world, and I feel no need to share it with them. I view my job as helping them improve their English. They are young adults from various nations and backgrounds with their own life experiences and world views, which I treat with respect. I do not view it as part of my mission to teach my students what they should think of the world. To do so, in my view, is downright unprofessional.