LSU has fired an education professor for using profanity and telling sex jokes in the classroom. Teresa Buchanan was fired for “creating a hostile learning environment.”
The Advocate has the details of the case.
A faculty committee that reviewed her case gave a few “notable” examples: Saying “F*** no” repeatedly in the presence of students, using a slang term for vagina that implies cowardice and telling a joke that the quality of sex gets worse the longer a relationship lasts.
Teresa Buchanan, who specializes in early childhood education and trains elementary school teachers, is fighting back.
The tenured faculty member said she’s the victim of a “witch hunt,” and plans to take the university to court for wrongful dismissal.
Her dismissal took effect June 19.
The 20-year veteran of LSU argues that she has never sexually harassed anyone, though she acknowledged using profanity every so often and making jokes to keep the attention of her students or to jolt them to consider classroom issues they hadn’t considered.
Let’s be real here, these students use far more coarse language away from the classroom. This is pretty mild compared to what these young adults, and that’s what 18-22 year olds are, have heard. If Ms. Buchanan was creating a “hostile learning environment” than I would hate to know what the comments section of any blog are.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Peter Bonilla gave a statement to Reason Magazine criticizing the firing.
Among the offenses cited against Buchanan are her occasional use of profanity among her adult students as well as occasional sexual jokes and references. Such interchanges are presumptively protected by a faculty member’s free speech and academic freedom rights and by themselves seem to fall well short of constituting any kind of actionable sexual harassment.
Unfortunately, this fits with FIRE’s recent experiences. FIRE has seen multiple faculty members in recent years investigated, suspended from teaching, removed from campus, and even fired from their positions over similar complaints to those against Buchanan at LSU. Their universities have regularly shown remarkable indifference to their academic freedom rights even when their speech at issue was demonstrably germane to their teaching or were themselves direct applications of the assigned course materials.
My guess is the faculty committee got it right when they recommend just censoring her and having quit using profanity in class. It is unprofessional, but it clearly isn’t harassment.
What’s more interesting is how Academia is now eating itself alive on the alter of political correctness. The bunch who invented “microaggressions” and “safe spaces” are now acting like Puritans on free speech. What we all need is a safe space from these self-righteous wannabe Marxist clowns.
In the meantime, pass the popcorn because it will be fun watching the Academic Left turn on itself.