Appalachian State University: Professor Suspended for Classroom Speech

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: Appalachian State University

In March 2012, tenured professor Jammie Price was placed on administrative leave after students alleged that she had created a hostile environment and strayed from the syllabus in her introductory sociology class. The allegations included making negative comments about the university and its student athletes and showing a documentary on pornography. Although what is known about her pedagogy is likely protected under the canons of academic freedom and does not appear to constitute actionable harassment, App State found her guilty and sentenced her to a development plan featuring “corrective actions” that encroached on her academic freedom, such as unique requirements for teaching “sensitive topics” and “controversial materials.” Both the Faculty Due Process Committee and the Faculty Grievance Committee have issued reports raising objections to Price’s punishment, including allegations that App State violated Price’s due process by suspending her without a due process hearing. Despite these reviews, Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock has rejected the committee recommendations and announced that the sanctions against Price will move forward. On December 22, 2012, Price appealed her case to App State’s Board of Trustees.