Community College in California Suspends Four Professors Without Explanation Following Peaceful Protest

October 27, 2009

Inside Higher Ed reports that four faculty members at Southwestern College, a San Diego community college, were suspended without explanation following their participation in a peaceful student protest over state budget cuts that would eliminate over 400 of the school’s courses. The faculty unionwhose current and former president were among those suspendedis demanding a hearing, which the college must provide within seven days. 

Inside Higher Ed‘s Scott Jaschik writes:

Southwestern officials could not be reached to explain why they took this action. The college’s spokeswoman was recently laid off and she has not been replaced. The college’s president, Raj Chopra, is reportedly on vacation and his e-mail reply says that he will be off campus until November 13. Chopra’s executive assistant gave local reporters a statement that said that the reason for the suspensions could not be made public, and that "the college shares our students’ concerns about reductions in state funding for the college. The college respects, values and is committed to freedom of expression."

Philip Lopez, an English professor who is president of the faculty union, said that there is no other possible explanation for the suspensions except the rally. "Nothing else happened the day before," he said.

Despite the school’s vague, noncommittal statement, Southwestern’s actions certainly do not indicate that the college is committed to free expression. 

Stay tuned. FIRE is investigating.