Purdue-Calumet prof’s Islam comments create stir

February 15, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.- A political science professor at a Purdue University campus in northwest Indiana says the school is investigating him for comments he made on his personal Facebook page in November about Muslims killing Christians in Nigeria

Maurice Eisenstein tells the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/yObbuH) that he believes the university is investigating him to try to scare other faculty into political correctness. About two dozen students protested at the campus in Hammond for two days after Eisenstein posted the comments, calling for the associate professor’s classes to be boycotted and for him to be dismissed. 

University spokesman Wes Lukoshus told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he could not comment because it was a personnel matter. 

The newspaper reports that complaints against Eisenstein were filed with the school by students and faculty before and after the Facebook controversy. The most recent complaints dealt with him posting a photo of the killings in Nigeria and asking where the response was from "moderate Muslims." Other complaints date back to 1991. Eisenstein called the complaints against him "vague." 

Eisenstein said the accusations are because he boldly speaks from a conservative point of view that some may find offensive. 

"They are piggybacking everything that happened in my past classes to Facebook," Eisenstein said. "What they are looking at is, if anyone is offended then I don’t have a right to say it. No one has defended me." 

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit educational foundation devoted to free speech, sent a letter last month to the campus’ chancellor, Thomas Keon, that argued Eisenstein was being harassed by school officials because of his online opinions on politics and religion. 

"Please do not let your students abuse the university’s disciplinary process in order to interfere with the free personal expression and academic freedom of one of your own professors," Adam Kissel, the organization’s vice president of programs, wrote. 

Eisenstein said the issue has caused him to think twice now about what he says in class. 

"I’ve thought twice of raising a topic and then I kicked myself for not raising it," he said. "It is not fair to me, it is not fair to the students." 

In 2009, some students on the main Purdue campus in West Lafayette called for a political science librarian to be fired after he posted comments online urging discussion on what he called the economic cost to society of homosexuality. Purdue officials did not discipline him.

Eisenstein, who has taught at the Calumet campus since 1993, said he was uncertain of what might happen next.