Dr. John McAdams, a professor of political science at Marquette University whose blog posts have brought to light many of the Jesuit University’s actions undermining its Catholic identity, has reportedly been suspended, banned from campus and is now under formal investigation by the administration. The Cardinal Newman Society spoke to the University in order to determine the grounds for the disciplinary action.
McAdams released the news on his blog, Marquette Warrior, which included an email sent to him from the dean of Marquette, Richard Holz. The email stated that McAdams was to remain off campus while his conduct was reviewed by the University. Enclosed in the email was Marquette’s harassment policy.
The Cardinal Newman Society previously covered McAdams’ report concerning one of the University’s philosophy instructors, Cheryl Abbate, a graduate student who reportedly told one of her students that discussion of same-sex marriage “would be offensive” to homosexual students. She reportedly said the student did not have “a right in this class to make homophobic comments” and invited him to drop the class. The story garnered national attention.
McAdams posited that since his blog has not covered anything “particularly controversial lately besides [the post] about the Philosophy instructor (one Cheryl Abbate), we have to assume that’s what it is about.” McAdams also noted that the dean’s inclusion of the harassment policy in his suspension email might be an indication that “merely blogging about questionable conduct by a Philosophy instructor constitutes ‘harassment’” in the University’s mind.
“Marquette’s harassment policy is absurdly vague and includes ‘behavior is intimidating, hostile or demeaning or could or does result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or harm,” McAdams wrote. Under these terms, McAdams argued that “even mental discomfort (which should be a normal part of having one’s opinions challenged in a university) is considered harassing.”
Whether Marquette officials really want to punish us for blogging, or whether they simply feel the need for a pro forma “investigation” of [charges] someone has brought, we don’t know. Either would be gross misconduct on the part of Marquette officials. Any attempt to censor our blog not only would violate the canons of academic freedom, but would reverse years of precedent, since we have been free to criticize things going on at Marquette for nearly ten years now. And an “investigation” constitutes a form of harassment. Any charges against us should have been summarily dismissed.
“Marquette, in other words, has again shown itself to be timid, overly bureaucratic and lacking any commitment to either its Catholic mission or free expression,” McAdams concluded in his post.
Brian Dorrington, senior director of communication at Marquette, told the Newman Society that Marquette “began reviewing both a concern raised by a student and a concern raised by a graduate student teaching assistant” last month.
Dorrington stated that the University’s president “has been very clear… about university expectations and Guiding Values to which all faculty and staff are required to adhere, and in which the dignity and worth of each member of our community is respected, especially students.”
Dorrington also referenced a recent campus-wide letter from University president Michael Lovell, which addressed “important issues of respect, professionalism and academic freedom.” The letter stated that “[r]espect is at the heart of our commitment to the Jesuit tradition and Catholic social teaching.”
Lovell noted in the letter, “we listen to any member of the campus community who expresses concerns alleging inappropriate behavior. As stated in our harassment policy, the university will not tolerate personal attacks or harassment of or by students, faculty and staff.”
“To be clear, we will take action to address those concerns,” the letter continued. “We deplore hatred and abuse directed at a member of our community in any format.”
“The university has protocols in place for students who have concerns related to academic matters or any other issues,” Dorrington told the Newman Society. “Faculty members who express concerns alleging harassment may also refer concerns through standard channels of authority—an associate, dean, dean of the college or provost,” he said.
This is not the first time that McAdams has been disciplined by University officials for his coverage of questionable University events. In 2011, The Cardinal Newman Society reported on McAdams’ administrative reprimand for contacting a student about her involvement in a potential performance of The Vagina Monologues on campus.
Over the years, the Newman Society has reported on other scandals at Marquette University brought to light through McAdams’ blog. These included a Christian fellowship group which faced suspension after dismissing an active homosexual officer and a faculty workshop which discussed how to confront students who resist the University’s concept of social justice.
The Newman Society also spoke about McAdams’ suspension with Mary Jarvis, secretary of the Louis Joliet Society, an organization of concerned alumni and associates who seek to help Marquette rediscover authentic Catholic identity.
“This certainly gives credence to the growing notion that ‘academic freedom’ at Marquette is nothing more than a sham the administration employs when justifying itself,” Jarvis told the Society.
Jarvis also referred to “embarrassments like Dr. Daniel Maguire, the Femsex curriculum and other numerous concessions the University has made to political-correctness at the expense of its Catholic identity and dignity as a university.”
“It is outrageous that a professor of Dr. McAdams’ caliber and accomplishment is being treated in this way,” stated Jarvis.
Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society.