Marquette Suspends Dental Student for Things He Wrote on His Blog,

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

A dental student at Marquette University has been suspended for the rest of the academic year and ordered to repeat a semester after a committee of professors, administrators and students determined that he violated professional conduct codes when he posted negative comments about unnamed students and professors on a blog. . . .

The focus of the hearing, [the student's lawyer] said, were half a dozen postings including one describing a professor as "a (expletive) of a teacher" and another that described 20 classmates as having the "intellectual/maturity of a 3-year-old." [EV Note: According to this account by Marquette professor John McAdams, the professor and the classmates weren't named in the blog, though the professor's identity might be inferrable by those in the know.] . . .

In a letter to the student dated Dec. 2, Denis Lynch, the dental school's associate dean for academic affairs, said the committee had found the student "guilty of professional misconduct in violation of the dental school's Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct."

The student also violated a universitywide code that subjects students to disciplinary action if they participate in stalking, hazing or harassments, the letter states.

In addition to informing the student of his suspension and his need to repeat his fall semester, which costs $14,000 in tuition, Lynch threatened the student with expulsion if he continued to post material on "any blog sites that contain crude, demeaning and unprofessional remarks." . . .

Prof. McAdams of the Marquette Political Science Department has much more on this, and harshly criticizes Marquette; Inside Higher Ed has more, too.

Marquette is a private university, and is thus not bound by the First Amendment. Moreover, this case doesn't seem to involve punishment of students for their ideological viewpoints, and thus doesn't pose the most serious academic freedom problems. Nonetheless, it seems to me that Marquette should be condemned for this: Students, it seems to me, must be entitled to criticize the quality of their professors and the student body, even when they do it in childish terms; moreover, restricting speech under standards as vague as "unprofessional" risks deterring a good deal of speech, including more serious criticisms.

Thanks to Sean Hackbarth (The American Mind) and David Carlson for the pointer.

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