If you like to use vivid examples when discussing moral issues about, e.g., killing versus letting die, do be warned. You could be removed from campus.
The facts in the following case are not clear; mostly one hears of student complaints in the linked-to news article. One’s sympathy is also not immediately on the side of a white guy who vividly portrays killing his black female dean, but the AAUP has a statement that could strike a chill in all of us who think moral reasoning concerning real figures could interest the students.
From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
A tenured professor at the Widener University School of Law has been placed on administrative leave and is fighting to keep his job after students complained about his frequent hypothetical references in class to the school’s dean being shot, according to the News Journal of Wilmington, Del. The newspaper reported today that the students had complained about the professor, Lawrence Connell, partly because they regarded his hypothetical discussions of the shooting of Dean Linda L. Ammons, a black woman, as violent, racist, and sexist. Administrators there have responded by accusing the professor of a pattern of inappropriate speech and behavior.
One huge worry is that the students just didn’t much like him and decided to try to get rid of him. I don’t see any explicit evidence for the worry, but enough of us have reported feeling the scorn of students to make it a real possibility. And then there’s this statement from here:
If accurate, the allegations against Connell could raise a debate about the distinction between misconduct and academic freedom, said Gregory F. Scholtz, associate secretary and director of the American Association of University Professors.
“Education is all about pushing the boundaries, and it’s all about controversial ideas, but the question always is when does it cross the line,” Scholtz said. “Given our modern culture and the violence that exists, you’re really asking for trouble when you talk about killing people.”