Back in April I posted on the moral/political/academic/all-of-the-above quagmire traversed by the UC Santa Barbara professor, William I. Robinson.
Robinson, in what I deemed a plucky ruse, elicited much apoplexy after stoking debate on the Gaza conflict.
An investigation ensued and he has been cleared of ‘improper conduct’.
A blow for censorship and a score for freedom of information?
Not quite, as Cyndi Silverman, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Santa Barbara, believes it sets a dangerous precedent for faculty members, since:
…it creates a disturbing message that only the rights of faculty are to be respected, not the rights of individual students. [Source]
Once more it raises the irksomely impossible spectre of wholesomeness; it is naive to imagine that in the course of teaching such a sensitive topic that all offenses will remain unscathed.
To be politically, socially, or emotionally touched by the coverage of a conflict is inevitable; people – not just faculty members – have opinions and it is par for the course that this will infuse the subject matter.
As lecturers we are not automatons – one might argue that we should be, but it is unrealistic.
We strive to deliver the subject objectively, but equally the fire of debate proves an invaluable learning tool.
To stifle such methods would be churlish, unrealistic and would render all debate bland.
And as debate is one of the most scintillating methods by which to learn – in any environment – I herald Robinson’s vindication with much rejoicing.