Before I start, I would like to mention how odious David Horowitz and is Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week are. What a bad person and what a goofy cause.
Also, this comes from my other blog, Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes.
John Leo wrote an article about Troy Scheffler, who apparently wrote to Hamline University officials shortly after the VaTech massacre, asking them to reconsider their concealed weapons ban. The thrust of John’s article is that Troy’s email got him sent unfairly for mental evaluation. This could be a problem…what could possibly be a more straightforward case of the impingement upon a student’s freedom of speech? Most things, actually.
The article is stuck to the bottom of the litter box we call townhall.com.
According to Leo:
Troy Scheffler, a graduate student at Hamline University in Minnesota, thinks that the Virginia Tech massacre might have been avoided if students had been allowed to carry concealed weapons. After e-mailing this opinion to the university president, he was suspended and ordered to undergo “mental health evaluation” before being allowed to return to school. […]
Scheffler, it should be said, is something of a campus gadfly, with disdain for campus diversity programs and other policies. The university said Scheffler’s e-mails were threatening, but those messages, available on the FIRE web site, contain no semblance of a threat. Free speech was the core issue and still is.
Leo is spinning this like it is a 1st and 2nd amendment issue. Debating guns on campus will get you suspended pending psychological evaluating. Troy is being represented by FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education–hey! That’s what FIRE stands for! That’s so clever. Anyway, FIRE has made public edited versions of some of Troy’s correspondence, all of which are available in their almost entirety…right….HERE!
The original letter seems to have been fired off shortly after VaTech, which Phyllis Schlafley sort of approved of. And the conservative media seems to be picking up on the aftermath of the thing. We will likely hear more of this. This list is from the FIRE site referred to above:
- “College Admins: If you favor Second Amendment rights, you must be crazy,” Jon Sanders, Town Hall, October 17, 2007
- “Student advocates gun rights, gets suspended; Church-affiliated university to require mental evaluation before return allowed,” World Net Daily, October 11, 2007
- “Banning guns (and opinions about guns) in college,” Brian Doherty, Reason Magazine Hit & Run, October 11, 2007:
- “Grad student suspended after pro-gun-rights e-mail,” Declan McCullagh, CNETNews.com, October 10, 2007
OK, not really unbiased media sources, but whatever. As an academic, I am fiercely opposed to censoring students, no matter how ignorant they are (everyone has a right to be wrong!), and, man, it’s our life blood, this freedom of speech stuff. Don’t tread on it lightly, or you will have a faculty revolt. I’ve seen it at all of the (basically) conservative schools I have attended. An administrator goes a little too far and clamps down on a student publication–happens quite a bit, and usually the students win, justifiably, in my opinion. So I really want to know what’s going on here, because censorship strikes at the heart of free inquiry.
With a clear understanding of where my sympathies lie with respect to free speech on campus, let’s look at what FIRE has made available.
The earliest letter available is from Scheffler to the VP for student affairs from 17 April. You could still smell the gunpowder at VaTech.
From: Troy Scheffler
Subject: I dont think the students need the counseling…
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 10:54 PM
Considering this university also pushes “diversity” initiatives like VA Tech, maybe its “leadership” will reconsider its ban on conceal carry law abiding gun owners… Ironically, according to a few VA Tech forums, there are plenty of students complaining that this wouldnt have happened if the school wouldnt have banned their permits a few months ago…
I just dont understand why leftists dont understand that criminals dont care about laws; that is why they’re criminals… Maybe this school will reconsider its repression of law abiding citizens rights.
Considering that accoriding to the university president that there were recently serious “hate crimes” that were committed in the womens bathrooms; there may be people on the edge ready to snap. I cant say I blame them, I myself am tired of having to pay my own extremely overpriced tuition to make up for minorities not paying theirs. On top of that, I am sick of seeing them held to a different standard than the white students (Of course its a lower and more lenient standard).
Oh by the way, when is your “diversity” department going to include European ancestry?
On the edge and ready to snap? Is that only poorly worded? That’s a little worrisome. If I received this from a student, I would have printed this and put a flag on it. Maybe mention it (not the student’s name) to my supervisor. You know…just in case I end up face down in the river.
Apparently Scheffler was not satisfied with the response of Student Affairs, because he wrote to the University president on the 19th:
“I was wondering why a swastika painted by some frustrated ladies in their bathroom turned somehow into red flags of a hate crime but you dont consider an asian guy admittedly killing people because he hated them not hate motivated… Anyhow, in response to your most recent email concerning a vigil for people most likely nobody in the school knows; I would like to comment on your claims of upped “security”. I attend a MPLS cohort so I dont see any security in the area ever. Infact it seems the dirty bums on the street are the only ones patrolling anything.”
Eek! Lack of affect for human misery. Disjointed thought. Bum hater. And this is only the first paragraph or so, apparently. Not conclusive evidence that he should be committed, mind you. He does go on to make the point that there should be dialog on campus about guns. And, despite the tone, the argument is a fair one. He makes references to and synthesizes outside opinions about the issue…Again, except for the tone, utterly unremarkable.
But he goes on, to other issues:
On a lighter note… For a “Christian” university, I am very disappointed in Hamline. With the motif of the curriculum, the atheist professors, jewish and other non-Christian staff, I would charge the school with wanton misrepresentation.
Um, what does this…er..have to…uh…
Yes, I obviously feel that Hamline has been a serious let down, so far I am almost finished with half of my MAPA degree and havent even cracked a book. All the books that came in plastic wrap are still in plastic wrap despite the ridiculous amounts students are charged. I have yet to hear a student in my cohort that is happy with the curriculum or quality of professors. Why does this school charge so much for such a substandard education?
OK, and you aren’t a particularly good student (do conservatives read?). Failure to understand how textbook pricing works. And the fact that he seems not to be working…could that be a sign of a mental disorder, not partaking in normal life events?
Furthermore, why are you diversity initiatives anti-Euro American (ie white folks)? All over the university grounds I see loads of leftist propaganda, why not warn a student before they enroll at Hamline? It took me complaining to a few different people before even the hamline website finally included white people in the random pictures on the main page.
Good point, but how often do you do this type of thing?
Now it is obviously better but just goes to show how biased this university is and the painstaking efforts of diversity pandering it does at the expense of people that are actually planning on contributing back to the TAXPAYERS that are footing the bill for your diversity initiatives. In fact, 3 out of 3 students just in my class that are “minorities” are planning on returning to Africa and all 3 are getting a free education ON MY DOLLAR. I bet the staff here is wondering how a swastika ended up in a bathroom… More people than you can imagine are tired of this all. It’s just sad that they resort to petty vandalism rather than speak their mind like I am.
OK, coming apart now…Raging against the poor, the evil Africans, gun restrictions, taxes (at a Christian University?), excessive use of “quotes,” and then trying to make the swastikas sound like the endpoint of a reasoned process. OK, not totally normal, but still, maybe we caught him on a bad day. Or two. And, remember, this was written shortly after VaTech.
Please stop alienating the students that are working hard every day to pay for their tuition. Maybe you can instruct your staff on sensitivity training towards us “privilaged white folk”. If your staff is going to continually berate the evil white male for this privilage and his racist tendencies, at least have them explain where to find the privilages and point out the evil people that are ruining the world. Strange for how horribly racist Europeans and other white people are that everyone seems to want to exploit our generosity. Maybe someday the favor will be returned but I doubt it seeing what I have so far…
Thanks for your time…
I don’t think he knows the meaning of ‘respectfully.’ The darkies are always leeching off of you? How could we possibly consider you to be racist? Or paranoid?
The next letter that FIRE posts comes from the University:
From: “Linda N. Hanson”
To: Troy Scheffler
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 17:09:55 -0500
Subject: Re: Excessive emails
I understand that you have concerns about a number of matters, including Hamline’s policy on banning concealed weapons, diversity and financial issues, and I appreciate that you are willing to engage in a dialogue. We are always interested in the concerns of students and suggest that you meet with some of our university personnel to discuss your views. If you will provide us with 2-3 times on Monday or Tuesday of next week when you are available to meet, we will arrange an opportunity at the Minneapolis Center for your convenience.
That maniac! I mean…what? They offered to talk. But there is something else in this email that I want to draw your attention to. It’s the subject line: “Re: Excessive emails.” There is apparently another problem here. May we assume, knowing how emails and email replies get their titles, that this is at least the second letter the university president has written with this subject (he, after all, would have been the one who thought the emails were “excessive”)? How many more are there? We can’t honestly say. But persistent badgering the president, I mean, that’s obsessive stalker behavior, right? I mean, you mentioned that you wrote numerous letters to several officials before about campus issues.
The reasons for the suspension are clear, as outlined in the letter sent to Troy notifying him of his change in status (in .pdf fromat).
Now, FIRE puts forward a compelling argument in a letter to the school:
The third determining factor enumerated in your letter to FIRE contained new information-information that has not been explained to Scheffler himself. You wrote that you took into consideration “additional, critical input from various members of the Hamline community who had interacted with [Scheffler]. This includes individuals who came forward on their own prior to the April emails, expressing their concerns about Mr. Scheffler.” This added information is troubling for several reasons. First, Scheffler reports that administrators have not made him aware of complaints against him from other members of the Hamline community. The university’s decision to act on complaints waged against Scheffler without notifying him about the manner and substance of those complaints presents serious due process concerns and violates the Dean of Students’ “Student Judicial System” policy, which guarantees that the university will notify a student of charges brought against him or her. The “Student Judicial System” policy states, in relevant part, that “The respondent(s), and/or student organization(s) will receive written notification of charges and procedures for arranging a pre-hearing conference. Normally, the notice will be delivered no later than three business days after the complaint was filed.” The “Rights of Complainants and Respondents” section of that policy goes on:· Each party will be contacted and given written notice of the charges stating the alleged facts upon which the charges are based, the section of the Judicial Code that has allegedly been violated, and the date by which the pre-conference hearing must occur.· Each party will be provided a copy of the complaint during the pre-hearing conference meeting.· Each party may present relevant evidence including any written statements, oral statements, and/or physical exhibits, may question witnesses, and may present arguments.
Despite these stated protections, Scheffler is unaware that anyone has expressed concerns about him or his behavior. (MY EMPHASIS, always my emphasis)
Due process versus student and personnel safety. It’s a tough call. Now, written harassment alone is grounds for suspending a student…this was made clear in the University’s stated policy. Does the fact that concerns raised by written harassment (excessive emails) were not allayed by unsolicited (and thereby not technically “proceedings” or “charges”) testimonies mean that the university should continue to allow him on campus? I can’t say so.
There is another problem. Instructors like myself are severely limited about what we can report and to whom we can report it. Students have expectations of privacy that must be respected. For this reason, the University is really unable to put forward in a public way anything that might support their position. This, of course, means that they have to take the media clobbering of FIRE and conservo-persons. FIRE can selectively release whatever they like (not all documents referred to in the correspondences are posted–the most important one is the one explaining to FIRE the rationale for the action taken by the University). I take no comfort in the fact that they are only releasing edited versions of the letters, that they are not releasing all of the letters, and that they have taken their clients concerns not to court but to the public first. And can anyone see the problem with this link:”Hamline University: Student Suspended after Advocating Concealed Carry on Campus”. It is a clear post hoc fallacy, suggesting chronology is causality.
This is part of a general attempt to discredit universities. I see it a lot. Of course, I’m looking for it and may be more sensitive to unreasonable assertions about higher education. There was an interesting article released in the Chronicle of Higher Education a week or so ago that suggested that the radical leftist view of the university system is simply unfounded, that while there are comparatively few conservatives, the tendency is to the center or center-left and changes based on age. I could have told you that. But what do they know? They are just “elite” Harvard researchers. Funny how that wasn’t picked up on the conservanoid websites, who need that convenient fiction to bolster their claims that radical nerds are out to turn their kids into godless sodomite porn stars.