University of Guam: Professor Punished for Email to Students, Faculty, and Media About Local Election


University of Guam

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On October 24, 2022, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Chair of Public Administration and Legal Studies Ron McNinch emailed students, faculty, and journalists about a political debate hosted at the University of Guam. In the emails, McNinch criticized candidates for potentially missing the event and shared his thoughts about the upcoming local election. On November 8, university president Thomas Krise placed a disciplinary warning in McNinch’s file for his “insulting, rude, and belligerent” remarks about the political candidates, allegedly using his official university title to influence the election, and speaking to the media without university approval. On November 21, FIRE wrote the university, explaining how the First Amendment protects faculty’s right to express views on public issues as private citizens, and calling for Krise to rescind his punishment of McNinch for clearly-protected political speech.

After the university denied wrongdoing in its response, FIRE wrote another letter in December 2022 reiterating our call to rescind UOG’s sanctions on McNinch. On April 20, 2023, a discipline committee removed the letter of warning from McNinch’s file and called on UOG to revise its free speech policies.