In September 2020, graduate student and adjunct History professor Richard Taylor taught a lesson about the history of the “Columbian Exchange,” the transfer of biodiversity and culture resulting from 15th and 16th century transatlantic trade. After a student filed a bias complaint about Taylor’s slideshow, which provided a discussion prompt (“Do the positives justify the negatives?”), and an activist group mounted a letter-writing campaign, St. John’s investigated Taylor for “ask[ing] students to justify slavery and discuss the positives and negatives of slavery[.]” Taylor was found responsible for violating St. John’s anti-harassment policy on October 5, 2020. FIRE wrote to St. John’s, asking it to end any attempts to punish Taylor for a question that — even if accurately framed by Taylor’s critics and the investigator — would be fully protected by academic freedom. Taylor sued St. John’s in state court; the case is ongoing.
FIRE Case Files
February 17, 2021 | Read More
February 8, 2021 | Read More
Update: St. John’s limits academic freedom of history department in ongoing effort to punish professor for asking question
October 12, 2020 | Read More
Teaching history not permitted: St. John’s bulldozes academic freedom, punishes professor for posing question about ‘Columbian Exchange’
October 8, 2020 | Read More