School Betrays Promises Made In Negotiations
January 28, 2011
In an act of staggering naïvety, Faculty Prosecutor Professor Gregory Germain today asked if I was still willing to take the deal that the school is offering me. That comes despite their utter betrayal yesterday by releasing a substantially more incendiary version than the last one Prof. Germain himself had submitted to us! FIRE’s truly awesome assessment of the university’s statement can be found here. My response, to all parties, was as follows:
What I had understood from our discussions was that a public apology and admission of complicity was to form the basis for the agreement. This I have consistently been enthusiastic to do and I in fact believe I owe an apology to those who may have been genuinely offended. Where I’m struggling, however, is in the confidential settlement document that was recently sent to me by Prof. Germain. I can agree to everything but a promise that I will never again criticize the school for its actions, especially in light of yesterday’s developments.
Yesterday, The Huffington Post ran an editorial written by the president of FIRE which named Syracuse University the worst offender in the country for curtailing free speech. I was not involved in or consulted for the writing of this article. In response, the school released a statement that resembled the one we were negotiating but went far beyond the language we had already agreed upon. It undid much of the negotiation and was frankly a huge betrayal of the good faith that had existed until that point. I am perplexed as to how Prof Germain thinks that a deal can still be on the table when that deal would include the text to a public statement that the school has already defenestrated for the purpose of viciously misrepresenting me and the case.
I perceive this matter as an assault on free speech, a violation of the school’s promise of free speech codified in the student handbook, and a direct breach of the sentiments it sought to promote when it chose for a large mural of Sacco and Vanzetti to be painted on the side of one building, and the text of the First Amendment on another. If I was to agree that I will never again state that I believe the school was wrong I would not be acting in good faith. The agreement goes far beyond precluding me from going out of my way to generate media criticism of the school. It prevents me from any future comment to the Daily Orange, conversations in bars, and truthfully answering questions that will inevitably be asked during my run for president of the Student Bar Association. I believe this is over-broad and patently unfair, especially in light of the school’s behavior yesterday. I would now be essentially precluded from criticizing (not disparaging as I have no intention to do, but criticizing) the school for prematurely releasing the beefed-up statement it put out yesterday, despite that appearing to be a clear violation of the promises made in your chambers.
I propose the following, that we meet again and discuss a settlement that includes a public apology but does not seem to prevent me from doing precisely what the school is already doing to me – that is criticizing its handling of the matter. If the school is unwilling to return to the table, I see no alternative but awaiting a charge and further eroding the image of a school I would very much like to maintain some credibility, if only for the sake of mine and my friends’ degrees.