On October 30, 2018, Augsburg University Professor Phillip Adamo led an in-class discussion of James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time,” a nonfiction book addressing racism that was first published in the 1960s. A student used a racial slur while quoting from the book, and Adamo used the word in discussing its context and whether it should be used in classroom discussions. On November 13, 2018, following criticism over the discussion, Adamo was removed from teaching and from his post as director of the university’s Honors Program. FIRE sent a letter on February 11, 2019, calling on Augsburg University to adhere to its policies on academic freedom, which should have protected Adamo’s discussion of materials germane to the course.
FIRE Case Files