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John McAdams suspended, banned from MU for conduct review

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John McAdams, associate professor of political science

John McAdams, associate professor of political science

John McAdams, associate professor of political science, said on his blog Tuesday that he is suspended with pay and banned from campus as Marquette reviews his conduct after he criticized a teaching assistant for a disagreement she had with a student about gay marriage.

McAdams described the university requiring to remain off campus during the review as being “treated like a terrorist.”

“Whether Marquette officials really want to punish us for blogging, or whether they simply feel the need for a pro forma ‘investigation’ of changes someone has brought, we don’t know,” McAdams said in his post. “Either would be gross misconduct on the part of Marquette officials.”

The incident that led to McAdam’s suspension occurred during a Theory of Ethics class when philosophy doctoral student Cheryl Abbate and an unidentified student had a disagreement about gay marriage in an ethics class.

When one student suggested that a ban on gay marriage violated John Rawls’ equal liberty principle, Abbate quickly moved on to the next topic, according to an article from Inside Higher Education.

Another student approached Abbate after that class and said he was “very disappointed” and “personally offended” that she did not consider his classmate’s example about gay marriage, according to the student’s recording of the conversation, which Insider Higher Education obtained.

Abbate disagreed, according to the student’s recording, and the conversation ended with the student saying, “It’s still wrong for the teacher of a class to completely discredit one person’s opinion when they may have different opinions.”

Abbate responded that the student didn’t “have the right, especially (in an ethics class) to make homophobic comments or racist comments,” according to the recording. She also invited the student to drop her class if he disagreed.

McAdams then criticized Abbate on his blog, “Marquette Warrior,” which was picked up by multiple national news organizations. The event also spurred the Westboro Baptist Church to picket on campus Dec. 8.

Marquette announced Dec. 1 that it was reviewing the widely publicized incident. McAdams said he was told about the investigation at a meeting with Richard Holz, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, before Thanksgiving Break.

“We are taking appropriate steps to make sure that everyone involved is heard and treated fairly,” said university spokesman Brian Dorrington at the time the review was announced. “In compliance with state and federal privacy laws, we will not publicly share details, including the results of the reviews.”

In response to the news of McAdam’s suspension, members of Turning Point USA, a conservative youth-based group with a chapter on campus, have expressed support for the professor.

“In effort to have a case for free speech, our organization will be fighting on behalf of Dr. John McAdams in an effort to make sure that his employment is not affected by his personal views,” said John O’Rourke, president of the campus Turning Point.

The organization is planning to hold a protest on Monday morning in front of Zilber Hall, tentatively around 10 a.m. About 100 people are expected to be in attendance, including the founder of Turning Point USA Charlie Kirk. The Marquette chapter of the organization has also set up an online petition.

This story has been updated since its original posting to include a response from Turning Point USA.

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “John McAdams suspended, banned from MU for conduct review”

  1. Meg on December 17th, 2014 8:04 pm

    It would be helpful to readers if the authors of this article clarified the following issues. 1. Is academic freedom at stake in this case? 2. Which individuals are being accused of misconduct? 3. Does the alleged misconduct include mishandling discussion, as well as commenting publicly on a colleague?

  2. clarknt67 on December 22nd, 2014 7:36 pm

    2. McAdams alleged misconduct on Abbatte. But he was not there and have a one-sides account which Abbate says is filled with misinformation and fictional quotes.
    3. McAdams IMO should have brought his concerns to admin before blasting a grad student on his blog. At least he should have gotten Abbate’s side of an event before “reporting” on something he was not present for.

  3. Rusty on January 17th, 2015 2:23 pm

    1. Academic freedom is at stake for graduate students in this case regarding their ability to lead classes as best as they’re able without fear of death threats and being chased out of the school because a tenured professor wrote lies about them. McAdam’s academic freedom does not entail smearing students on his blog. Undergraduates’ academic freedom does not entail holding professors’ class content hostage to their own, less educated, views on matters (especially when those views are irrelevant to the content as in this case).

    2. McAdams

    3. The alleged misconduct regards McAdam’s blog activity regarding Abbate. The review process is confidential so specific details aren’t going to be available to any of us.

  4. Thomas Murphy on January 14th, 2015 2:30 pm

    My Father was a Marquette graduate. It is a Catholic Law School. If you have trouble with that issue how much trouble do you have discussing what the Bible has to say about homosexuality such as in this passage.
    Leviticus 20:13

    “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

    Does this mean that the Bible is to be banned from Marquette as McAdams is? And when Science just implicated that homosexuality is caused by a defect to the serotonin regulation gene does Marquette University then ban science classes because they offend those of the gene?
    http://www.towleroad.com/2013/05/new-study-reveals-that-mice-homosexuality-is-dependent-on-serotonin-.html
    When a college or University System becomes invalidated for the above reasons, then we see the introduction of free two year community colleges come into existence! Why? Because you couldn’t handle the truth! What a great shame! A University that can’t handle the truth; putting all those graduates out into the world of professional high paying careers and political appointments!

  5. Rusty on January 17th, 2015 2:26 pm

    Catholicism and the Bible have nothing to do with whether or not Rawls’ Equal Liberty Principle would prohibit bans on gay marriage. If we were to demand that every classroom conversation be peppered with Biblical references, no matter how irrelevant, education would be impossible.

  6. Thomas Murphy on March 20th, 2015 9:22 am

    You are taking the issue out of context. That is a Catholic University and the theme of the class encompassed the matter. Rawl’s sounds like Tennessee Whiskey bottle hick to me.

  7. Guest on February 20th, 2015 4:21 pm

    If they were being good reporters they would put out there that this O’Rourke kid is the source of the whole controversy…

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