University of Kansas Professor Reinstated After Four Month Investigation Into Classroom Speech


University of Kansas

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

University of Kansas assistant professor of communications studies Andrea Quenette was cleared of any wrongdoing after a four month investigation into comments she made during a candid, in-class discussion on race. Following the discussion, eight graduate students filed complaints against Quenette with the university, some of whom were not even in Quenette’s class. In their open letter, the students argued that Quenette’s comments during the discussion were “unacceptably offensive” and violated KU’s Racial & Ethnic Harassment Policy, among other university policies. They also said they would no longer attend her class. Quenette was subsequently placed on paid leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. FIRE wrote to KU urging the university to recognize that the professor’s comments are protected by the First Amendment and that any punishment would violate her rights. On March 18, 2016, the university announced that Quenette did not violate university policy and could return to teaching.