College ignoring professor's freedom
November 28, 2011
by Bob Kellogg
The University of Denver is refusing to reconsider its violation of the academic freedom of a professor who has been teaching for 50 years.
Professor Arthur Gilbert was placed on administrative leave after anonymous complaints were filed about his making statements in class that constituted sexual harassment. But even though his peers conducted an investigation that found the charges were without merit, the school refuses to reconsider its decision.
"The university actually declined to take into account the fact that his academic peers did not believe that he had done anything wrong," notes Robert Sibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). "And I think that came as a really big surprise to both Professor Gilbert and the other professors who were assigned to investigate these allegations."
Sibley points out that not only has Professor Gilbert's academic freedom been violated, but he has also been denied the right to face his accusers.
"We're seeing more and more cases with students and faculty across the country this idea that you have to answer anonymous allegations that may have happened at some unconfirmed date. It's amazing that we expect people to be able to defend themselves competently from that sort of charges," the FIRE vice president notes.
In the meantime, Gilbert's requirement to attend sensitivity training has been reduced to a single visit with the director of the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity.