Saint Xavier University: Reprimand of Professor for Anti-Military Comments

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Saint Xavier University

Peter N. Kirstein, a tenured Professor at Saint Xavier University in Illinois found himself suspended after he responded to a student’s request for advice. The student, an officer candidate in the University’s ROTC program, requested counsel regarding the publicizing of an upcoming student-debate forum. Professor Kirstein, himself a pacifist, expressed his disapproval of the military and foreign policy in his response to the student’s e-mail. Although the case was never resolved, several organizations came out on behalf of Professor Kirstein, including the National Academy of Scholars and the American Association of University Professors, and FIRE drafted a letter to University President Richard Yanikoski.

  • The Chill Is Nothing New

    September 9, 2005

    There is a chill on campus, but that’s nothing new. For decades, campus speech has been chilled by speech codes and other attempts to prevent expression that might offend. Some would like to imagine that the excesses of “political correctness” are ancient history, but repression in the name of tolerance hasn’t gone anywhere. Oppressive speech codes are not only still around—they have actually multiplied, even after numerous court decisions declared them unconstitutional. Within the past year, college students have been punished for such things as expressing a religious objection to homosexuality and arguing that corporal punishment may be acceptable. Students […]

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  • Life After Controversy

    July 31, 2005

    Saint Xavier University history professor Peter Kirstein admits sending the e-mail wasn’t his finest moment. You may remember his Halloween 2002 missive, the one in which the professor angrily denounced the “baby-killing tactics” of the U.S. Air Force and called the academy cadet to whom he was writing a “disgrace” to his country. His comments sparked a national outcry at the time, among the first in a succession of Internet-fueled, “out-of-control liberal professor” outrages. Conservative and military Web sites posted the e-mail throughout cyberspace. Thousands of complaints nearly shut down the Mount Greenwood university’s e-mail system for a month. Kirstein, […]

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  • Saint Xavier U. Suspends Professor for E-Mail Message

    December 6, 2002

    Saint Xavier University has suspended a professor who called a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy a “disgrace to this country” in an e-mail message that also derided the military’s “aggressive baby-killing tactics.” Administrators at Saint Xavier had already forced the professor, Peter N. Kirstein, to apologize, and the Chicago university also issued an apology of its own.   Richard A. Yanikoski, Saint Xavier’s president, declined to comment on the decision to suspend Mr. Kirstein and referred reporters to a statement he issued on November 15. At that time, he placed the professor on a sabbatical leave for the […]

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  • Saint Xavier professor defends his right of free speech

    August 7, 2005

    With more than 1,820 American soldiers killed in action and 123,000 Iraqi civilian casualties in an unjust, criminal war, I am glad, despite efforts from readers such as Jim Murphy (Public Forum, Aug. 3), that I have not been silenced. And with even greater resonance, I can protest this neo-conservative crusade to expand American geopolitical hegemony throughout the Muslim world. It violates the laws of war and the U.N. charter; it was justified with falsified and criminally negligent intelligence against a defenseless nation, and President George W. Bush is a war criminal in my estimation. In Dan Lavoie’s otherwise balanced […]

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