Taking a policy too far

July 22, 2005

WILLIAM Paterson University went too far when it formally reprimanded a Muslim employee for writing in an e-mail to a professor that homosexual relationships are "perversions."

The university acted on an overzealous interpretation of the state's anti-discrimination policy.

In so doing, it unfortunately provided grist to the national Christian right in its complaint that so-called liberal academe squashes free speech among students and employees.

The decision to discipline the employee also forestalled other more creative and constructive solutions that must be sought for the inevitable dust-ups in our culturally diverse society.

The problem began when a women's studies professor sent a campus-wide e-mail announcing an event that included the screening of a film about a lesbian relationship.

A 68-year-old Muslim man who repairs computers for the university and is a part-time graduate student e-mailed a response to the professor not to send him announcements about such films because "these are perversions." He also lamented "the absence of God in higher education...

Schools: William Paterson University Cases: William Paterson University: Punishment on Harassment Charges for Response to Mass E-Mail