Institutional Disharmony at IUPUI
July 14, 2008
by Azhar Majeed
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) student-employee Keith John Sampson has received a letter from IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz apologizing for the exceptionally poor treatment he has received at the hands of the university. While Bantz's letter represents a positive step, however, others within IUPUI's administration have not done nearly as well by Sampson. The result is that the administration at IUPUI appears publicly to be in a state of disharmony and disarray.
In his letter to Sampson, Bantz reaffirms that the university's Affirmative Action Office (AAO) was wrong to conclude that Sampson's act of reading a book during his work breaks constituted racial harassment, as stated in the AAO's initial letter to Sampson (pdf) last fall. Attempting to set the record straight once and for all, Bantz adds:
Given the campus' commitment to the principles of freedom of expression, lifelong learning, and respect for the rights of all members of the IUPUI community, that letter was replaced with a final decision letter. Since no adverse disciplinary action was taken and no information regarding the investigation was placed in your personnel file, we, therefore, consider this matter resolved.
Unfortunately, public statements by others within Bantz's own administration prevent this matter from being completely resolved. Far from it, actually. As FIRE reported last week, university relations officials at IUPUI went on record for a recent Wall Street Journal article claiming that the racial harassment finding against Sampson stemmed not from his reading the book in question, but from other, undisclosed conduct. These officials have refused to reveal what this conduct consisted of—to the Wall Street Journal, to FIRE, even to Sampson himself. Instead, they have apparently decided to publicly smear Sampson with vague, unsubstantiated statements and insinuations, and simply leave it at that.
This is all part of a sad state of affairs at IUPUI, and the university's handling of the case seemingly only gets worse with the passing of time. IUPUI officials need to publicly get in line with Chancellor Bantz's statements to Sampson and thus clear Sampson of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Only then can one consider this matter to be truly resolved.