IUPUI Changes Tune on Student’s ‘Racial Harassment’ Charge
July 8, 2008
Back in May, FIRE informed Torch readers that Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) had revoked its finding that student-employee Keith John Sampson was guilty of racial harassment for publicly reading the book Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. School administrators sent us a letter confirming that no documents regarding the incident remain in Sampson's file and claiming that IUPUI hopes "this experience as well as feedback from the campus community will result in an improved [complaint] process." We declared victory and applauded IUPUI publicly for admitting regret over the incident.
Unfortunately, as we informed you today in our latest press release, IUPUI is now on record in a Wall Street Journal article as saying that Sampson was punished not for his choice of reading material, but for other undisclosed "harassing behavior." What exactly that behavior was, IUPUI has not shared—with Sampson, FIRE, or the Wall Street Journal. As FIRE's vice president, Robert Shibley said,
If IUPUI really thought that Sampson had engaged in some 'racially harassing' behavior rather than reading a book, there is no reason why they would not have brought it up at the time—and no reason why they couldn't say what it is now. This apparent whispering campaign against Sampson is truly appalling. IUPUI has either brazenly violated due process by finding a student guilty without a hearing and without even letting him know the allegations against him or, more likely, is lying in an attempt to stave off further embarrassment. Either way, the school has bitterly betrayed one of its own students.