Marquette University Violated Conservative Professor’s Academic Freedom

Court rules John McAdams to be reinstated immediately after a drawn-out suspension, court battle.

Editor’s Note: In 2014 Marquette University Political Science Professor John McAdams locked horns with an angry ‘social justice warrior’ graduate student instructor by calling the individual’s authoritarian classroom antics out on his personal blog. He has just prevailed in Wisconsin’s court system in overturning the university’s decision to discipline him. The original decision to suspend McAdams without pay was that of a university administrator “Kangaroo court” that the academic chose to fight in state court.

Given Dr. McAdams’ political stances this has likely been a lonely fight conducted with the aid of few-if-any colleagues or professional academic organizations. The professor is otherwise an ardent defender of the dubious “lone gunman theory” of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, long supported by the US intelligence community and corporate media, which if anything should make him a welcome component of the American university system.

Peter Jesserer Smith
National Catholic Register
(July 11, 2018)

MADISON, Wisconsin — Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has come down firmly on the side of political science professor John McAdams in his dispute against Marquette University, ending a nearly four-year absence from the Jesuit campus and an acrimonious battle over academic freedom and tenure rights. 

The justices ruled 4-2 in McAdams v. Marquette that Marquette violated McAdams’ academic freedom by suspending him indefinitely, without pay, over a blog he wrote about a graduate student-teacher’s alleged suppression of a student’s opinion against “gay marriage” in a classroom discussion. The court overturned an appellate court ruling and ordered McAdams reinstated immediately and awarded damages, including back pay.

The undisputed facts show that the university breached its contract with Dr. McAdams when it suspended him for engaging in activity protected by the contract’s guarantee of academic freedom,” concluded the decision written by Justice Daniel Kelly.

The ruling stated that Marquette violated McAdams’ academic freedom by suspending him for the Nov. 9, 2014, blog post he wrote about then-graduate student-teacher Cheryl Abbate. The court stated the blog was an “extramural comment” protected under the tenure contract.

McAdams had alleged on his personal blog, “Marquette Warrior,” that Abbate stifled a student’s attempt Oct. 28, 2014, to present a view opposing “gay marriage” in her philosophy class — a characterization of events Abbate later disputed.

The student secretly recorded his confrontation of Abbate after class and then gave the recording to McAdams, his academic adviser. When McAdams wrote about the account, he linked to Abbate’s blog, where her contact information was two page clicks away. The post went viral and reached a new audience, and Abbate found her inbox flooded with a torrent of largely male readers sending her violent and obscene messages.

By December 2014, Abbate had left Marquette, and McAdams was suspended from campus.

A seven-member faculty hearing committee selected by the academic senate investigated and ultimately recommended in January 2016 that McAdams be suspended with benefits minus pay for one to two semesters. It stopped short of recommending McAdams’ dismissal, citing the “complex” nature of the case. Marquette President Michael Lovell adopted the recommendation, but then added the requirement that McAdams admit fault and apologize to Abbate by April 4, 2016.

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10 thoughts on “Marquette University Violated Conservative Professor’s Academic Freedom”

  1. What McAdams did had nothing to do with academics. McAdams was gaslighting students to harass. He deserved to be put out.

    1. Nice to see the GoogleBots and their handlers are on the job this morning. Seeing the self-proclaimed Ministry of Truth working so hard to keep everyone asleep is somehow reassuring, in an odd, disquieting sort of way. It gives me and several of my friends long term job security, at least. (We are paid to help people “wake up,” so to speak, and detox from technology.)

    2. wrong. A student he was advisor to, brought it to his attention, that the student’s academic freedom was being squelched, and he (McAdams) rightfully let it be known that in an academic environment where questioning, arguing both for and against any position, philosophy, theory, is supposed to be encouraged, Abbate was guilty of only allowing such on views she herself supported and that needed to be called out.

  2. McAdams’ defense of the JFK ‘Lone Gunman’ theory demonstrates the professor’s lack of danger to the keepers of official narratives, as our university systems have proven themselves to be. Amid the uproar his gadfly criticism has caused, McAdams’ abundance of credulity in larger matters could plausibly be the underlying reason he won reinstatement.

    Here’s McAdam’s original blog criticizing Abbate:
    http://mu-warrior.blogspot.com/2014/11/marquette-philosophy-instructor-gay.html

    Here’s another philosophy professor defending Abbate:
    http://dailynous.com/2014/11/18/philosophy-grad-student-target-of-political-smear-campaign

    And, a response from FIRE to the defending philosophy professor:
    https://www.thefire.org/marquette-classroom-controversy-rebuttal-ignores-facts/

    One note: it’s not illegal, as the philosophy professor claims, to record a person in the State of Illinois without their knowledge, when the conversation takes place in public.

    Also, I find it reprehensible and against all pedagogic reason for Abbate to advise the complaining student to drop her class because of the issue. It seems she is not good teacher material after all, particularly in her chosen field of ethics.

    1. Minor correction: Marquette U is in Wisconsin.

      If one can draw on their knowledge of campus politics it looks to this observer as if McAdams was likely inveighing against the views of fellow colleagues with which he disagrees by way of Abbate. He could have taken the same stance on his blog without calling the graduate student instructor out by name that led to the alleged harassment and his own suspension.

      There’s a simple ethical dimension. Grad students who work as teaching assistants effectively fulfill apprenticeships, and are thus not colleagues. They’re also still “students” who could conceivably take a class from the full faculty member, even if they’re not in her/his discipline. However, one could also easily see through this exchange how a prima donna like Weinberg who should be able to stand on his own two tenured feet would have pursued the same remedies.

      1. Damn Marquette, Illinois!

        My point still stands, as Wisconsin has the same ‘one party consent’ law with respect to recordings.

        I take your point, but it seems there should be some kind of redress available from the apprentice’s employer should malpractice occur, as it seems to have done in this case, as the student was advised to drop the class.

        I guess the lesson is, don’t take a class from a grad student.

        1. Cannot speak to the student culture at Marquette. Unfortunately, our experience has been that most students may not have the wherewithal to discern such malpractice (recognizing that even grad student instructors are in positions of authority is enough for them to take a pass), and are otherwise too busy and/or apathetic to file a dispute. Even if they do take offense at some wrongdoing and take action they may have difficulty navigating the university’s institutional climate and locating avenues to properly file a complaint. Some university faculty and instructors are aware of students’ vulnerabilities in these respects and accordingly push the envelope with their own fantastical claims and political sermonizing before students, as this grad instructor did, knowing they are overall impervious to accountability.

      2. After reading your comments and thinking about it some more, I’m inclined to think now that the concept of malpractice itself gives too much authority to the institution. After all, the goal for education is (or is said to be) the development of a person’s critical thinking skills. This necessarily leads to divesting established authority of its power and placing it in the individual.

        If the student, in your phrase, has the wherewithal to discern malpractice in his education, then his education has been successful.

  3. How jesuitical for Marquette to penalize a faculty member for repressing disapproval of marriage.

    I don’t know if many know this, but Jesuit-run Georgetown University was found guilty in civil court of raping a female student by male student proxy sometime before 1995, according to the ACLU in DC, in federal court. I can’t see how anyone could work or study under these psychopaths and expect accountability.

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