[Marxism] Antiwar beliefs thwarts tenure bid
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 2 08:21:11 MST 2005
Casualty of Anti-War Activism
Alan Temes believes that being a professor doesnt mean you give up your
First Amendment rights and that his beliefs cost him a chance at tenure.
Temes, an assistant professor of health and physical education at Indiana
University of Pennsylvania, had been receiving good reviews until last
year, when some of his colleagues objected to notices he posted in the
hallway of an academic building, among the various other notices that line
such hallways. Temes posted and regularly updated the death counts of
U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed since the United States invaded.
His department chair sent Temes an e-mail last April stating: Hanging a
body count is not an issue of freedom of speech, but one of using poor
judgment and showing lack of sensitivity for students, faculty and staff in
our office who have immediate family members who are themselves at risk of
dying in Iraq every day.
In the same e-mail according to a lawsuit Temes has filed the
department chair, Elaine Blair, requested a meeting to talk about Temes
anti-war activities and his tenure bid. At that meeting, according to the
suit, Temes was told that continued anti-war activity would hurt his tenure
bid and shortly after that he was rejected for tenure.
A spokeswoman for Indiana University of Pennsylvania said that no one at
the institution could comment about the allegations.
Normally, tenure lawsuits are very hard to win. But Samuel C. Cordes, a
lawyer representing Temes, said that because of the collective bargaining
agreement in place at the university, tenure criteria are very specific and
somewhat formulaic, so it will be easy to show that Temes met the criteria
and was headed to tenure at least until he exercised his freedom of
The suit filed by Temes in federal district court charges that his First
Amendment rights were violated and says that, as a result, he should be
Its a First Amendment issue, and I think its important for that reason,
Cordes said. Any public employee has a right to talk on matters of public
interest. The Supreme Court has said that for more than 20 years,
especially in the university setting, where there is supposed to be the
free exchange of ideas.
Temes said that he thought it was important, as a professor, to get
students thinking about the war in Iraq. The American media hasnt been
covering the deaths, he said. It seemed perfectly appropriate for him to
put up his notices in the hallway, he said, since the same hallway includes
notices that were patriotic or pro-war and a display of alumni and employee
relatives who are serving in the military.
At the same time, Temes stressed that the activities for which he was
criticized werent in the classroom. He said that he doesnt try to hide
his liberal views, but that the war is rarely relevant to his courses, so
he doesnt bring it up. He did call off classes on the day the United
States invaded Iraq, and participated in a teach-in instead, and he
replaced regular classes with a discussion on 9/11. I just thought we
couldnt conduct business as usual after learning of the attacks on the
World Trade Center, he said. But Temes said that those rare instances in
which world events changed his classes werent criticized his body count
and his other anti-war activities were.
He makes no apology for the body counts, and he thinks professors who were
offended should respond with their own views, not criticize him for having
I think its important for professors to speak out about all social and
political issues. There are lots of problems national, global, that we
could and should be addressing, he said. The only time many of my
colleagues are mobilized is on contract issues, pay and benefits. Sure I
want to make a decent wage, but thats not high on my list.
While Temes feels strongly about pushing his suit, he also knows these
things take time and his current year will be his last at Indiana unless
he is granted tenure. So when not updating his body count, hes job hunting.
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