Adjuncts fight back over academic freedom

October 3, 2008

Steven Bitterman was on his way to teach a course in Western civilization at Southwestern Community College last fall when his car slipped off the road. By the time he got back on the road, Mr. Bitterman’s clothes were muddy, so he returned home to clean up. That’s where he got a telephone call from one of the college’s vice presidents, saying he had been fired.

Three students, the vice president told Mr. Bitterman, were offended because he had told his class that people could more easily appreciate the biblical story of Adam and Eve if they considered it a myth.

"She said the students and their parents had threatened to sue the school, and sue me, and she said: ‘We don’t want that to happen, do we?’" said Mr. Bitterman, who had been an adjunct professor at the Iowa college since 2001. "She told me I was supposed to teach history, not religion, and that my services would no longer be needed."

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