College Says Students Were Not Cause of Safety Risk; Students Fear Retribution From Faculty

By WILL DIGRAVIO

College Provost Jeff Cason and Dean of Faculty Andi Lloyd sent an email to all faculty Friday, April 19, that made clear for the first time that student protesters were not the cause of the safety risk cited in the cancellation of Wednesday’s lecture by Ryszard Legutko. Cason and Lloyd emphasized, rather, that concerns for protesters’ safety were the reasons behind the cancellation. The email was forwarded to students by Dean of Students Baishakhi Taylor.

The email also said students feared retaliation from faculty members for their position on yesterday’s events. In the email, Cason said “students have also reported being called out in classes and over e-mail, by both faculty and other students, for the positions they took on the planned speaker.” They urged faculty members to “pay particularly close attention to how even well-intentioned comments may be received as retaliatory or punitive.”

In her email forwarding the message to students, Taylor wrote, “I want you all to hold me accountable and I will continue to keep communication open.”

The full email can be read below:

As you are aware, our assessment of the potential safety risks of Wednesday’s planned lecture did not reflect concerns about threats from student protesters or students attending the event.  Rather, we were concerned about the safety of those participants.  Nonetheless, students have reported concerns about potential retaliation by faculty whose position on the event may have differed from their own.  We know that many of you have taken the time this week to engage these issues thoughtfully and respectfully in class, and we are grateful for that.  However, students have also reported being called out in classes and over e-mail, by both faculty and other students, for the positions they took on the planned speaker. 

At this time of heightened tensions, we ask all of you to pay particularly close attention to how even well-intentioned comments may be received as retaliatory or punitive.  We thank you for your efforts to support our students, and to foster a respectful classroom environment.

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