University of Oregon: ASL Instructor Dropped Due to Classroom Comment

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Oregon

FIRE has asked the University of Oregon (UO) to reverse its punishment of American Sign Language instructor Peter Quint, who was relieved of his teaching duties on the basis of a single comment he made in class to students who had repeatedly violated a class policy against speaking aloud. Quint, who is deaf, shared with his class a personal story about how he was able to escape a Pashtun tribesman in Pakistan who had a gun by means of showing “respect” in a foreign environment. When the students spoke aloud again, Quint sarcastically asked if he would have to shoot them for the students to understand his point. Although this statement was clearly not a true threat, UO immediately dropped him as an instructor and banned him from contacting anyone who could help him prove his innocence. UO also completely ignored its due process obligations.

  • FIRE Cases Figure Strongly in ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ Article on Retaliation Against Faculty Speech

    August 3, 2011

    The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Peter Schmidt has an excellent article on the hair-trigger sensibilities of the college classroom, in which many professors have found themselves under fire for remarks seen as violent or threatening. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the free speech and academic freedom issues involved, several of the cases Schmidt cites in his piece are cases in which FIRE has been—or is currently—involved. Two of the cases Schmidt devotes significant coverage to in his article are cases with which FIRE has been intimately involved in recent months. The first, involving law professor Lawrence Connell of Widener University, concerns […]

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    July 18, 2011

    Public scrutiny is mounting against the University of Oregon (UO), which suspended American Sign Language (ASL) instructor Peter Quint from teaching and then notified him he would not be reappointed, all because he sarcastically made a reference to shooting students who were breaking the rules during one of his classes. As Fox News and Britain’s Daily Mail are reporting, Quint is preparing to sue the university for violating his rights. Among UO’s many transgressions in prosecuting his case, as FIRE has explained, is failing to consider Quint’s remark in its proper context. As we originally wrote: On May 4, Quint opened his […]

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    FIRE has asked University of Oregon (UO) President Richard Lariviere to reverse the damage to free speech and academic freedom that UO caused when it dropped American Sign Language (ASL) instructor Peter Quint in the middle of the term without a hint of due process, all because of a comment he made during class about students who were violating a class policy. Quint, who is deaf, had been appointed as an ASL instructor for the 2009-2010 academic year, and his appointment was renewed for 2010-2011, with a reasonable expectation of renewal for the coming year. A small number of students […]

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