The University of Colorado Board of Regents will be deciding sometime today if controversial professor Ward Churchill will be fired. Churchill first came under fire because he referred to some victims of September 11th as “little Eichmanns,” but was later investigated for supposed research misconduct and plagiarism. Back in 2005, when the controversy originally erupted, FIRE defended Churchill’s free speech rights and issued a comprehensive analysis of the situation. In that analysis we also addressed the suggestion that the academic misconduct charges should be dropped because the initial investigation improperly targeted his opinions:
FIRE cannot, however, agree with those who argue that Churchill should not be the subject of any adverse job action simply because the Board of Regents’ initial investigation was improper. The recent allegations of research misconduct have come from citizens doing their own, independent, inquiries into Churchill’s background. Ward Churchill has a right to speak, but—once he injects himself into the public square through his teachings, writings, and speeches—he cannot insulate himself from public scrutiny. If that scrutiny results in the release of information that harms his credibility or legitimately places his job in jeopardy, then that is simply the hazard of voluntarily participating in the marketplace of ideas.
Make sure to stay tuned for further updates as this situation develops today