Latest “hostile learning environment” allegations: From the Arizona Republic:Two Hispanic legislators on Thursday denounced a Glendale Community College math professor who circulated e-mail messages criticizing “diversity double-talk” and celebrating “the superiority of Western civilization.”
The professor, Walter Kehowski, said he sent the messages in the community college system because he was upset at a recent Dia de la Raza celebration at which he felt students expressed racist attitudes toward non-Hispanics by praising separatism.
Without naming Kehowski, Dr. Rufus Glasper, chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges, issued a statement referring to a GCC faculty member whose correspondence he isound “insensitive.”
Glasper said academic freedom is important and the law restricts what administrators can do regarding faculty members’ speech outside the classroom. But he called the messages “abrasive and divisive.” . . .
Rep. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said Kehowski has created a hostile learning environment and used school resources “to promote his prejudice.”
Kehowski said ethnic groups should be assimilated into society but some activists use ethnic pride as an excuse for separatism. He said that’s what he was trying to convey in his e-mail messages, adding, “I don’t call them insensitive. I’d call them controversial.”
I’m glad that the college seems to acknowledge its obligation to protect faculty members’ academic freedom; but I’m troubled by the “hostile learning environment” rhetoric, which is classically an argument for legal censorship — since a “hostile learning environment,” the theory goes, constitutes “harassment,” and thus violates antidiscrimination laws, see, e.g., here.