Dissenting Professor Faces Possible ‘Integrity Committee’ Investigation

September 13, 2005

A campus watchdog group says a dissenting professor at Brooklyn College in New York is being unfairly targeted by administrators for accusing faculty members of indoctrination and viewpoint discrimination.

The Brooklyn College School of Education (SOE) has begun to implement a policy requiring education students to have the school’s view of diversity and "social justice" in order to graduate. After history professor KC Johnson criticized the policy as unconstitutional, the SOE demanded that he stop his attacks, and then threatened to investigate him with an "Integrity Committee."

David French is president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has written to Brooklyn College on Johnson’s behalf. French maintains the educator is on solid ground in criticizing the new "litmus test" for education students.

"What Professor Johnson is doing is criticizing an unconstitutional policy — and they’re claiming that his criticism is censorship," French explains. "No, his criticism is free speech; investigating him with an integrity committee, because he engaged in free speech — now that truly threatens censorship."

FIRE is calling on Brooklyn College to fully respect Johnson’s First Amendment rights and to reject any calls for an investigation into his exercise of those rights. Thus far, the university has ignored those appeals.

"The school has refused to respond to any requests for information as to whether Professor Johnson is being investigated, what kind of investigation is taking place, and whether he is subject to any kind of punishment," the FIRE spokesman says. "So what we’re trying to do is to shine light on this abuse, and to shine light on the fact that a public school in the United States is requiring students to believe certain things before they can become teachers. It’s just appalling."

The school’s conduct in the matter, adds French, "shows an incredible misunderstanding of academic freedom." That is why his organization is asking Brooklyn College to confirm that it "tolerates dissent" and accepts free speech and academic freedom — "even when that dissent shines a light on the college’s own abuses."

Brooklyn College president Christoph Kimmich declined an interview with American Family Radio News for this story.