Brandeis University: Professor Found Guilty of Harassment for Protected Speech

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Brandeis University

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Case Overview

On October 30, 2007, Brandeis University declared a professor guilty of racial harassment and placed a monitor in his classes after he criticized the use of the word “wetbacks” in his Latin American Politics course. Professor Donald Hindley, a nearly 50-year veteran of teaching, was neither granted a formal hearing by Brandeis nor provided with the substance of the accusations against him in writing before a verdict was reached. Hindley appealed the decision to Brandeis’ Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, but Provost Marty Krauss refused to withdraw the monitor. On November 8, Brandeis’ Faculty Senate met in an emergency session, faulting the administration for making this unilateral decision and stating that administrators abused the definition of harassment and their power to punish. FIRE wrote to Brandeis on December 12, criticizing it for putting individual sensitivities over its promises of freedom of expression and academic freedom. FIRE did not receive a response from Brandeis, but on January 7, 2008, Krauss sent Hindley a letter stating that the university “considers this matter closed.”