Le Moyne, Occidental, UNLV Top the List in the ‘2005 Campus Outrage Awards’
April 1, 2005
Second: At the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Economics Professor Hans Hoppe received disciplinary sanctions for making an economically verifiable argument that homosexuals engage less in long-term financial planning than heterosexuals because they typically do not have children. One of Hoppe’s students, Michael Knight, filed a complaint leading to a yearlong battle between Hoppe and the University (which Hoppe eventually won). Knight accused Hoppe of “stereotyping homosexuals…When the door closes and the lecture began [sic], he needs to make sure he is remaining as politically correct as possible.” In an interview with Professor Hoppe by the Collegiate Network, Professor Hoppe believes he lost a year of his life to the entire affair. The University’s Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Officer affirmed the complaint by Knight and recommended that Hoppe receive a reprimand and be suspended without pay for one week. A grievance committee made up of one student and Hoppe’s faculty peers was held on November 18, 2004. The committee upheld the original grievance and recommended that Hoppe be reprimanded and forfeit any merit pay for the current academic year. On February 9, 2005, Hoppe received “a non-disciplinary letter of instruction” from Raymond W. Alden, III, the university’s Executive Vice President and Provost, affirming the decision of the grievance committee, stating that Hoppe had created “a hostile learning environment” in his classroom, and instructing Hoppe “to cease mischaracterizing opinion as objective fact in the educational environment.” However, nine days later, the university’s president, Dr. Carol Harter, released a statement in which she acknowledged that professors “are entitled the freedom to teach theories and to espouse opinions that are out of the mainstream or are controversial…” nowhere in the statement did Harter apologize to Hoppe for what university officials put him through, nor were any individual university officials singled out for criticism. Knight, the student who filed the complaint, would have fit right in at LeMoyne College. The letter from the university, and the statement from President Harter are available on the web. Professor Hoppe’s Victory Blog shows how support for his cause has reached beyond the borders of the United States.
Whatever the future consequences of the appeal court's poorly considered opinion, overly expansive interpretations of harassment have already had a disastrous effect on our nation's most important "communicative workplace" - our colleges and universities. Claims of harassment are not an incidental or occasional threat to free speech on campus, they are the single biggest loophole to punish protected speech on campus and have been for decades now.