‘Wetbacks’ Case Still Roiling Brandeis

By on September 26, 2008

The case of Donald Hindley at Brandeis is not going away anytime soon. Today’s Brandeis Hoot covers a discussion between attorney Daryl Lapp and Brandeis faculty members regarding anti-discrimination law as it applies to "discriminatory speech." Lapp, who commonly defends universities in claims against them, was invited for this discussion by Provost Marty Krauss after faculty members asked for clarification about harassment and anti-discrimination law in the wake of Brandeis’ treatment of Hindley, whom the university punished under its non-discrimination and harassment policy. Hindley had critiqued the term "wetbacks" in his Latin American Politics course last fall, a student complained, and Hindley found a monitor in his classrooms for the rest of the term. The Faculty Senate later withdrew its support for that policy as a result of its misapplication against Hindley.

Faculty senate chair William Flesch told the Hoot, "The faculty isn’t quite sure what to think. It’s certainly the case that there is a great deal of concern about what’s impermissible and why." It is unclear whether Flesch said this before or after the discussion, but we predicted on Monday that the paucity of expert points of view (Lapp’s and nobody else’s) was likely to leave the faculty unsatisfied. Vague rules about expression only serve to remove discourse from campus that ought to be entirely permissible, diminishing the quality of education at the university.

The Hoot also quotes Brandeis professor Jacob Cohen, who attended the discussion: "’insofar as one could extrapolate from the specific cases…the particular case that seems to interest us seems to have been mishandled,’ referencing the Hindley case." Indeed, that is what virtually everyone except Provost Marty Krauss has been saying for months.

Schools: Brandeis University