Letter to the Editor: An open letter to President Michael Lovell


Photo by Benjamin Erickson / benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Lovell, President, Marquette University:
I have always viewed by alma mater in a positive, sometimes stubbornly so, light. However, upon reading the article in today’s Wall Street Journal regarding the university’s handling of Professor John McAdams, combined with the commentary it has received from my peers (both alumni and not), for the first time I find myself embarrassed of the university. While I am admittedly a conservative when it comes to political viewpoints, this issue has nothing to do with politics, but with free expression. The exercise of this free expression is the very reason universities exist. 
I recently saw your letter in which you insisted Mr. McAdams apologize to the young woman whose teaching practices were called into question. While an apology may be warranted, it cannot serve as a contingency to reinstating an individual who acted within his rights as both an employee and an American citizen. I need not cite the employee handbook sections of which your handling of the situation has violated, those have been cited by the Journal for the entire country to see. Bullying is an unfortunate but very real part of life. I do not condone the messages which Ms. Abbate received, but the university cannot conduct itself based on what makes everyone feel good. Ms. Abbate’s conduct speaks both to her rightful concern for student demeanor, but also her wrongful attempt to control substance and participation. While no individual deserves the things that were said to her, the very essence and beauty of this country is that people are allowed to say those things and not be excoriated for it. If we can’t discuss the opposing views of gay marriage because it may offend gay individuals, how about ending discussion of the Nazis in history classes for it may be offensive to German people? Disagreement and divergent views are at the heart of academic discourse. 
I hope to one day send my kids to college to learn to think critically and to consider all viewpoints openly, honestly, and on their merits. Until today, I had without a doubt hoped that college would be Marquette. I fear that Marquette’s handling of this will have repercussions for years to come. I am just one alumni, but I am not alone in my fears. 
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall (Quote which was studied in a Marquette philosophy class)
Michael Bartman
B.S., Finance and Accounting
Marquette University Class of 2014