When it comes to voicing opinions on Main Campus, the limits aren’t always cut and dry.
British Oligarchy, Furious At Obama, Could Go For the Kill.” “Stop Obama’s Nazi Health Plan.” The eye-catching signs and pamphlets require a double-take just to absorb the egregious accusations.
But whose job is it to decide what is appropriate for students’ ears?
A student aligned with conservative views could be wary of affirmative action policies, as could a liberal aficionado detest a pro-life rally on campus. The answer: If you don’t like what a group is promoting, you just have to show some respect for the First Amendment.
Temple has strict policies on how student organizations and external groups are allowed to disseminate literature on campus, but that is overshadowed by a larger precedent of free-speech on campuses across the U.S.
“The university cannot discriminate against ideas that it likes and doesn’t like… I’d be sensitive to this if students were being clamped down on. Yet the university is in a tough position. What is hateful speech?” said Thomas Eveslage, professor of journalism, law and ethics.
The pamphlets and shouts of members of the LaRouche Political Action Committee, a non-Temple group that adheres to the values of politician and author Lyndon LaRouche, jolt students as they jostle through campus. The strong anti-government rhetoric and unconventional views hallmark the great debate of how open this campus should be.
Temple’s track record on freedom of speech so far has been relatively unscathed, and branding itself with the infamous “d” word – diversity – causes First Amendment policies to be integral to the mood of this campus.
From political groups to religious groups, student organizations in good standing have the right to set up a table on-campus, promote their views and hold events in university-owned buildings.
University campuses are maintained to be free and open places.
“A university is a marketplace of ideas where different groups exchange [thoughts] that they’ve never heard of,” Eveslage said. “Students are adults on campus, and you are supposed to be exposed to new ideas. Courts tell universities to keep that marketplace open. Don’t punish ideas that you particularly don’t like.”
The only time Temple should step in to regulate freedom of speech is if there is a crime attached to fighting words.
Bigoted comments are not enough to lead to a punishment, but “students that break into a residence hall and paint a swastika on a door can be punished on the basis of defacing property and can be given a more severe penalty if it was racially motivated,” Eveslage said.
Limiting free speech has not been a significant problem on Temple’s campus, but there have been many cases of universities trying to regulate the thoughts of its students.
The Center for Campus Free Speech reports that at the University of California San Diego, the administration’s proposed policy would have “prohibited all protests and student events without prior university approval, banned political speech by university employees while on campus and effectively assigned minders to student demonstrations.”
Luckily, students at UC San Diego fought back through rallies and had the law revoked.
What about ongoing protests involving Main Campus, like the budget crisis in Harrisburg, which could potentially lead to tuition hikes? Or what if a group of students wanted to invalidate a law they perceived as unfair?
“The best instrument is a group of people who are restricted with an unfair law. If they are punished – that can call attention to a particular piece of policy,” Eveslage said.
“Use the Senate, student body and faculty to call attention to this… and these forces would change policy. Public rallies at the Bell Tower are not the best place to start. Go to a part of Temple that has influence. Find out who is on the policy committee and speak with them,” he said.
The forum idea at Temple is relatively new. Eveslage said he remembers when there were two major faculty strikes in the 1980s.
“Back then there were only about 2,000 students on campus,” Eveslage said, “and not enough faculty to get involved.”
There were fewer publications and fewer student organizations. Main Campus closed down at night as much of the student population commuted.
In 2009, with a great deal of student organizations as well as community-outreach programs, Temple students can use a variety of resources to exercise the First Amendment – that is to assemble, speak and write on behalf of the Cherry and White.
Mark Newman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Temple University’s Civil Rights Violations are a Disgrace
By Chris Freind, the Philadelphia Bulletin
White males are not a protected class under the Constitution, and veterans do not have First Amendment rights. After all, their concerns should be ignored because they are “mentally unstable” from being “trained to kill.” And disagreeing with one’s professors can result in insults such as “gnat,” “juvenile” “liar” and “fool.” As far as academic freedom of speech, forget it.
Welcome to taxpayer-funded Temple University.
Temple finds itself at the center of a firestorm regarding an appalling case of squashed academic freedoms and restricted First Amendment rights. The victim of Temple’s suffocating speech code is a graduate student simply trying to earn a master’s degree in military history. He also happens to be one of our ultimate defenders of freedom, a decorated sergeant in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. This man’s civil rights were violated, not overseas in a hostile fire zone but right back here in Philadelphia, birthplace of the nation and cradle of liberty. How’s that for irony?
But since this is still the United States of America, and politically correct professors don’t rule the day, this grave injustice is on track to be rectified. All it took was a huge dose of courage.
Meet Sgt. Christian DeJohn.
Sgt. DeJohn was called to active duty by the Army after the Sept. 11 attacks while attending Temple graduate school. When serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Temple did the unconscionable and sent him invitations to weekly “Dissent in America” anti-war “teach-ins,” sponsored by Temple professors. Sgt. DeJohn objected and immediately became the target of retribution and retaliation—which continues to this day.
What did the university do? According to Sgt. DeJohn, he was dismissed from the school (later reinstated), was denied guidance and advice during his thesis completion, obstructed his graduation, contacted potential employers to sabotage his job search and even destroyed his personal credit by falsely reporting that he had graduated.
This situation led to Sgt. DeJohn testifying before the Pennsylvania Select Committee on Academic Freedom, which ultimately brought about reform referred to as “the biggest victory in the history of the academic freedom movement.” He then filed a federal civil rights lawsuit to challenge the school’s “speech codes,” through which Temple claims it has the right to restrict and deny students’ First Amendment rights. Sgt. DeJohn won, and a federal judge issued a permanent injunction against the speech codes. With its tail between its legs, Temple appealed, and arguments were heard on Thursday at the Federal Court of Appeals.
What’s really troubling in this whole affair is that Temple, an institution of higher learning, is supposed to be run by intelligent, objective people. Yet they actually argued in court that Sgt. DeJohn was a “marginal learner, barely passing” with failing grades, knowing full well that he had a 3.2 GPA and had never received a grade lower than a B-minus. When called on this, the Temple attorney referenced the failing grade Sgt. DeJohn received—in high school. Go figure.
In a display of uncommon maturity, history department chair Richard Immerman wrote about his hope that Sgt. DeJohn will “self-destruct.” In his “professional” critique of Sgt. DeJohn’s 300-page thesis, Prof. Immerman wrote abusive comments such as these: “You use juvenile argumentation”; the thesis was “a monotonous agony”; Sgt. DeJohn sounded like a “crackpot”; and the thesis came across as a “comic book for five-year-olds.”
If that’s not constructive criticism fostered in an open atmosphere conducive to learning, I don’t know what is.
Interestingly, this fight for academic freedom is not a partisan one. Sgt. DeJohn has allies across the spectrum who have filed amicus briefs with the court, from the ACLU and Feminists for Freedom of Expression to the Alliance Defense Fund and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
And Temple’s allies? None. Nada. Can’t imagine why.
When Sgt. DeJohn wins, his efforts and courage in the face of fire—both at home and abroad—will have resulted in a landmark case in the academic freedom movement.
Sir Edmund Burke stated, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Thanks to people like Sgt. Christian DeJohn, such evil is being vanquished, and he deserves our salute.
A Temple Alum Reacts to DeJohn’s Dilemma
July 6, 2009 by William Creeley,
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
This past weekend, FIRE supporter Kenneth H. Ryesky took particular interest in our recent update on Sgt. Christian DeJohn’s unfortunate situation. As a graduate of what is now Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Ryesky was disappointed to learn that his alma mater has as of yet failed to address the academic limbo in which Christian now finds himself stranded. In response, Ryesky—a practicing attorney—decided to pen a letter to Temple President Ann Weaver Hart, urging her to do the right thing and ensure that Christian’s thesis receives an honest review on the merits.
With his gracious permission, we’re pleased to be able to share Mr. Ryesky’s letter here on The Torch.
TO: Ann Weaver Hart, President, Temple University
Re: Sgt. Christian DeJohn
Dear President Hart:
If there is one word that is inextricably associated with Temple University, it is “diversity.” Temple’s cultural diversity is used in Temple’s promotional literature, you yourself do not hesitate to tout the cultural diversity of the Temple community in your speeches, and I myself have spotlighted Temple’s cultural diversity when participating at several Temple student recruitment functions in the New York City area over the years.
Temple’s diversity is special because it goes beyond comparing the student body to a color chart such as those commonly available in the paint section of the hardware store — Temple’s diversity has also been diversity of ideas and diversity of thought. And freedom of expression has always played a key role in Temple’s diversity of ideas and thought. During both of my stints as a Temple student, there always was a diverse spectrum of ideas presented in the classrooms, and in the halls, and on the streets and walkways of the Temple University campuses. Notwithstanding my frequent disagreement with many of the positions presented, I consider this diversity to be one of Temple’s great strengths.
As matters currently stand, Temple University now gives the appearance that it is retaliating against Sgt. Christian DeJohn for asserting his rights of free expression. This is certainly an impression that Temple ought not allow itself to make to the world, for it is diametrically at odds with Temple’s diversity. Sgt. DeJohn’s course work should be fairly and objectively evaluated on its merits, in a matter which does not give the appearance of any improper bias, and by the same impartial standards merited by the course work of any other student.
As a Management major at what is now Temple’s Fox School of Business, I was taught the principles of Management by Exception, which essentially means that managers should allow organizations to function normally unless and until an exception occurs where the organization’s routine functions fail to adequately handle a given case. At that point, management must intervene to redirect the organization to the appropriate courses of action.
As you and I know, the great bureaucracy that is Temple University occasionally functions inefficiently, occasionally requires regrouping time in order to correct its dysfunctions, and occasionally requires attention and intervention from the higher echelons. In other words, Temple, like other large organizations, requires Management by Exception.
Given that Temple’s routine handling of Sgt. DeJohn’s situation has in fact gotten to a point which has necessitated intervention by an outside authority (and an appellate-level judicial authority at that), perhaps some specific attention from Sullivan Hall is now warranted, to ensure the proper handling by the University of a student who obviously is intelligent, motivated, and likely destined for future achievement.
At stake is more than Sgt. DeJohn’s personal career. At stake is Temple’s essential core attribute of diversity.
Yours very truly,
Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.
BBA 1977, JD 1986
I know I speak for both Christian and all of us here at FIRE in thanking Mr. Ryesky for his eloquent support—indeed, letters from citizens like him help FIRE secure favorable outcomes for the students and faculty we assist at our nation’s universities. We rely on concerned alumni, parents, trustees, donors, and citizens who have both the common sense to recognize when universities mistreat members of their community and the courage to stand up and tell those in power that such behavior is entirely unacceptable.
While Christian, now training in the Mojave Desert, waits for word from Temple’s Provost regarding the status of his thesis review, it’s encouraging to recognize that many Torch readers stand in support.
DeJohn v. Temple: The Facts of the Case
By Adam Kissel
The precedential decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the case of DeJohn v. Temple focuses mainly on the unconstitutionality of Temple’s abandoned speech code—which had been disguised, as so many schools are doing nowadays, as part of its sexual harassment policy.
The case probably would not even have been filed if Temple had not treated DeJohn so badly in the first place. Following DeJohn’s complaint, here’s what happened:
Christian DeJohn, a student in Temple University’s Master of Arts in Military and American History program, was also a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard. DeJohn was deployed to Bosnia. While deployed, he received a number of anti-war e-mails from a history professor at Temple:
the e-mails were full of anti-war messages, information about campus “sit-ins,” and demonstrations around campus protesting the Iraq war.
DeJohn expressed his displeasure with the e-mails, and Department of History e-mails then stopped coming. When it was time for him to return to school, he found that he had been dismissed from the university. As DeJohn tells it, Temple “failed to grant DeJohn military leave guaranteed by federal and state law” and “dismissed him from school (later claiming his dismissal was a ‘computer error’).” This so-called error was corrected, and DeJohn returned to class in 2003.
DeJohn then took a course named Comparative History of Modern War during which the professor
consistently engaged in diatribes against the United States military in Iraq and the alleged failures of President Bush. As a veteran, DeJohn politely disagreed with many of [Professor Gregory] Urwin’s characterizations. DeJohn’s disagreements were in no way disruptive to the classroom environment.
That could have been the end of it—just some serious intellectual exchange over contentious political issues. But in retaliation for DeJohn’s non-disruptive responses to the anti-war messages of his professors, he alleged, Temple then
refused to advise him during his thesis completion, personally and professionally denigrated him when evaluating his thesis, rejected his thesis without legitimate academic grounds, delayed his graduation three times,
and more. For instance, although DeJohn had been given permission to complete an accredited course elsewhere and have it transferred, Urwin declared that the course was inadequate and required him to read an additional five or six books on the subject (the Vietnam War) and write papers on them. Urwin, who was the appropriate one to advise DeJohn’s master’s thesis, soon declared (according to the complaint) “that he could no longer advise DeJohn on his thesis because he was too busy.” After DeJohn submitted his thesis, the professor
commented that the thesis was “agonizing” and that DeJohn must suffer from “Alzheimer’s disease.” Urwin also wrote notes in the margins of DeJohn’s thesis. He wrote that DeJohn sounds like a “crackpot,” that his arguments are “absurd,” that the thesis read like “a comic book for 5-year olds,” that it was “amateurish,” that it was “exaggerated melodrama,” “juvenile melodrama,” and “juvenile rhetoric,” “monotonous agony,” “juvenile argumentation,” a “hissy fit in print,”
and more. DeJohn had apparently violated an unwritten rule about too many thesis advisors: if they don’t like you or agree politically with your work, it’s going to be harder to get them to stay on as your advisor and harder to have your work judged fairly. Because of the special relationship between advisor and student, a huge amount of discretion is afforded to the advisor, and unscrupulous advisors find it all too easy to abuse that discretion.
Judging the quality of academic work is often an extremely subjective enterprise, which is why courts would rather stay away from second-guessing university faculty. For this reason, not in a position to judge, I find it unsurprising that a court might dismiss charges against Temple that relate to Temple’s treatment of DeJohn from an academic point of view. But this is no way means that Temple professors acted appropriately given the discretion with which they have been entrusted. Given the context of this case, I would think that Professor Urwin now might want to preserve his reputation and offer to have DeJohn’s thesis reviewed by a more objective third-party panel.
As for Temple’s unconstitutional speech code and the implications of the Third Circuit decision, see our upcoming blog series (all to be posted here) and earlier blog posts, and in particular see the amici brief filed by FIRE along with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Christian Legal Society, Collegefreedom.org, Feminists for Free Expression, the Individual Rights Foundation, Students for Academic Freedom, and the Student Press Law Center.
It is often intimidating to speak out against the views of one’s professors. But in an environment where speech has been chilled by an unconstitutional speech code—the Third Circuit has essentially said that Temple cannot be trusted to respect freedom of speech, even now, hence the injunction—and where DeJohn has suffered such treatment by members of Temple’s Department of History, I think every student at Temple University ought to be warned: Temple University is not a safe place for you to speak out.
On This Independence Day, Sgt. DeJohn Still
Waiting for Fair Treatment from Temple
July 2, 2009 by William Creeley
This Saturday, Americans will celebrate the 233rd anniversary of our declaration of independence. With our nation presently fighting two wars abroad, this year’s Independence Day reminds us again that the brave men and women of our armed forces make unimaginable sacrifices every day in defense of our constitutional freedoms.
It’s fitting, therefore, to inform Torch readers that this Sunday, Sergeant Christian DeJohn of Wyncote, Pennsylvania, will return to active duty for the Army. One day after the Fourth’s fireworks, Christian will be heading out on active duty to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, right smack in the middle of the Mojave Desert. When he arrives, Christian will be greeted by 100-degree heat, 100 pounds of gear and body armor, and several weeks of very intense desert training.
But Christian is used to enduring hardships for the constitutional freedoms of both himself and others. Indeed, the name “DeJohn” should be familiar to anyone with an interest in free speech on campus. As FIRE supporters no doubt recall, Christian brought a successful suit against Temple University, where he was and is still a graduate student, which resulted in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit striking down Temple’s former sexual harassment policy on First Amendment grounds last fall.
The Third Circuit’s landmark ruling in DeJohn v. Temple University made clear that the free speech rights of students at public universities in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania cannot be abrogated by poorly-written speech codes. As such, it was a resounding victory for free speech on campus, and we have Christian to thank. Without his courage, unconstitutional policies would still be on the books.
Unfortunately, Christian’s “reward” for his victory has been bitter indeed. As I described at length back in March, Christian has been in an uncomfortable academic limbo following the Third Circuit’s decision. I urge you to read the ugly details in full, but here’s the bottom line: Despite obtaining each of the 26 credits necessary for his master’s degree and maintaining a GPA of 3.2, Temple’s History Department has refused to grant Christian an honest review of his master’s thesis.
That’s right: After filing his lawsuit against Temple, Christian’s progress towards his degree has been completely stonewalled by a school with an axe to grind. He’s done everything required but finish his master’s thesis, and he can’t do that because no professor will review it. Obviously, this leaves Christian in an unbelievably frustrating position. And all for standing up for his First Amendment rights. If it sounds unfair, that’s because it is. Temple should be ashamed.
Since my entry about Christian’s dilemma was posted back in March, there has been a small but promising sign that Temple may be coming around. In response to an e-mail query, Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico’s office informed Christian last week that they are reviewing his situation, and that they plan on being in touch in the next several weeks.
While this small note is far from a guarantee, there’s no choice but to hope that Temple decides to proceed in good faith. It goes without saying that Temple should do the right thing and establish a clear path for Christian to complete his degree, free from lingering faculty animus and petty persecution. Christian deserves to be treated fairly, like any other student. To single Christian out and prevent him from obtaining his degree because of his willingness to go to court on behalf of the First Amendment is just plain wrong.
So here’s hoping that Christian receives good news from Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico’s office while he’s in California, sweating it out under the desert sun.
Until then, he’s still waiting. And so are we.
Temple Student Newspaper Whitewashes
Temple’s Terrible Track Record on Student Speech
by Azhar Majeed, Foundation for Individual Rights on Education
Yesterday’s edition of The Temple News, a student newspaper at Temple University, features an article titled “Exasperating rights of expression,” by Mark Newman. The article correctly emphasizes the importance of freedom of speech on college and university campuses and posits that university students confronted with speech that they do not like should “show some respect for the First Amendment” rather than seek to shut down the expression. Unfortunately, the article goes wrong in its review of Temple University’s track record on free speech.
In the article, Newman blithely states that “Temple’s track record on freedom of speech so far has been relatively unscathed” and that “[l]imiting free speech has not been a significant problem on Temple’s campus.” In support of these assertions, the article points to the diversity of student organizations and community-outreach programs at Temple, with student groups having the right to “set up a table on-campus, promote their views and hold events in university-owned buildings.”
However, it ignores the elephant in the room when it comes to discussing Temple’s recent history with free speech on campus: namely, that the university’s former speech code was struck down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on constitutional grounds just last year in DeJohn v. Temple University, 537 F.3d 301 (3d Cir. 2008).
As any student at Temple should be aware, the university formerly maintained a sexual harassment policy broadly prohibiting “expressive, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual or gender-motivated nature” whenever such conduct had the “purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work, educational purpose or status” or “creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.” In August 2008, the Third Circuit struck down the policy as facially unconstitutional. The Third Circuit found that the policy was “sufficiently broad and subjective” that it “could conceivably be applied to cover any speech of a gender-motivated nature the content of which offends someone.” It held that since the terms of the policy “could include ‘core’ political and religious speech, such as gender politics and sexual morality,” it “provide[d] no shelter for core protected speech.”
By maintaining the former policy, Temple curtailed its students’ First Amendment rights and chilled campus expression. Moreover, by losing its legal battle, Temple became the second university to have its speech code invalidated by a federal appellate court and the latest entry in two decades of case law uniformly striking down unconstitutional speech codes. This hardly sounds like the work of an institution with an unscathed record on free speech. Rather, Temple has a long way to go before it can be considered an exemplary institution under the First Amendment. It needs to demonstrate, through policy and practice, that it is committed to the free exchange of ideas on campus. At present, FIRE rates Temple as a yellow light institution on Spotlight, meaning that Temple maintains at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application.
In addition to ignoring the DeJohn decision and its ramifications, the Temple News article erroneously states the following:
The only time Temple should step in to regulate freedom of speech is if there is a crime attached to fighting words.
While a part of me admires the free speech absolutism of this sweeping statement, the fact is that it is plainly wrong legally. In the first place, reliance on the “fighting words” doctrine to regulate speech is dangerous and outdated, as the doctrine is essentially dead-letter law. Furthermore, there are a few limited exceptions to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech, and universities may legitimately proscribe speech that falls into these categories. The exceptions include obscenity, defamation, true threats and intimidation, and incitement to immediate lawless action. Of course, these exceptions are subject to abuse by censors both on college campuses and in society at large—and they often are cited as justification for censoring speech that doesn’t truly qualify as one of these categories, as FIRE well knows. Nevertheless, we recognize that universities are allowed to regulate speech falling under the enumerated exceptions, properly defined under the law. Newman’s misleading assertion fails to consider this and is therefore wrong as a matter of law.
While the Temple News article is encouraging to read in its earnest defense of free speech on college campuses, I was disappointed to discover the omissions it has pertaining to its subject matter. Perhaps the occasion will provide a learning experience for both the newspaper and for the students at Temple University.
The Richard Immerman Watch
by Senior Editor Gabriel Schoenfeld, Commentary magazine
We have already noted here and in the Weekly Standard that a fox is guarding the hen house. Richard Immerman, a far-Left professor of history on leave from Temple University who participated there in “teach-ins” against the Iraq war, is working in the heart of U.S. intelligence, serving as the ombudsman for “analytic integrity” in the office of the Director of National Intelligence.
How he is able to perform this job while himself being a partisan in the intelligence wars is a mystery. As recently as this past January, Immerman published an essay lambasting the “Bushites” for manipulating intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. They made “every effort to ‘cook the books,’” Immerman wrote, ” they ‘hyped’ the need to go to war, and they lied too often to count.”
Matters are complicated by an additional wrinkle. While at Temple, Immerman became the target of a free speech lawsuit. The student who filed it, Christian M. DeJohn, was a master’s candidate in history, He also happened to be a decorated tank gunner in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, who days after September 11, 2001 was called up to serve on a counterterrorism mission in Bosnia.
While at Temple University, Sgt. DeJohn had clashed with Immerman about some of the professor’s left-wing views. Then, while he was stationed in Bosnia, the Temple history department began sending him anti-war fliers, inviting him to take part in its teach-ins against Bush’s “imperialist” foreign policy. Sgt. DeJohn objected, and asked to be taken off the list.
When Sgt DeJohn returned to the states in April 2003 and attempted to resume his education at Temple, it seems, according to the complaint, that a campaign of retribution ensued, carried out by Immerman and some of his history department colleagues, including Dr. Gregory Urwin. Matters became so serious that Sgt. DeJohn filed a lawsuit alleging that his First Amendment right of free speech was being infringed.
In the course of discovery proceedings, email correspondence among history department faculty members came to light in which Sgt. DeJohn was accused of suffering from “paranoid delusions,” being “mentally imbalanced” because “veterans are trained to kill by the U.S. Army” (Temple’s Professor Gregory Urwin)and being “literally obsessed with the idea of liberal bias” (Ricahrd Immerman).
Among the emails was one from Immerman in which he stated that “Christian is a gnat whom I hope will self-destruct without any help from us.”
This is interesting language for a professor to use about one of his students, especially a student who voluntarily chose to put himself in harm’s way to defend Immerman and Urwin’s right to spout nonsense.
If dissenting students were treated in this way at Temple, how are dissenting analysts within the intelligence community treated now that Immerman is responsible for investigating their complaints of left-wing and/or any other form of bias?
I would welcome receiving reports from any ”gnats” at Temple University who have had experience dealing with the good professor.
Clash with Temple University over beliefs strands student
Seeking resolution of master’s degree work at Temple
By Kathleen Willey
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
A Temple University student who challenged his school’s “speech code” and won a ruling in state and federal court that it was vague, overbroad and stifled student speech is continuing his battle with Temple University because the school has – four years after he completed it – declined to provide a grade on his master’s thesis, thus effectively denying him his degree.
The Alliance Defense Fund recently announced that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had affirmed the district court victory by Christian DeJohn, who is a sergeant in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
The ADF handled DeJohn’s successful request in the courts for a permanent injunction against Temple University’s speech code, and after a district judge sided with DeJohn, the appeals court confirmed “speech cannot be prohibited in the absence of a tenable threat of disruption… Furthermore, the policy’s use of ‘hostile,’ ‘offensive,’ and ‘gender-motivated’ is, on its face, sufficiently broad and subjective that they ‘could conceivably be applied to cover any speech’ of a ‘gender-motivated’ nature ‘the content of which offends someone.'”
Continued the appeals court ruling, “This could include ‘core’ political and religious speech, such as gender politics and sexual morality… The policy provides no shelter for core protected speech.”
DeJohn’s career, however, is not advancing as he planned. He told WND the judge’s order did not include instructions for Temple to grade his thesis, so more than three years after he completed it under school supervision, it still sits.
DeJohn now is serving at Fort Meade in Maryland, and told WND how the problems developed. He said he was enrolled at Temple in Philadelphia, but left about seven months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when he was deployed to Bosnia.
While he was serving in Bosnia, he started getting anti-war e-mails, called “teach-ins” from Richard Immerman, chairman of Temple’s history department. DeJohn responded with a request that the e-mails be stopped.
When he returned from active duty and tried to re-enroll in Temple as a graduate student, he was told he had been expelled because he had not asked for emergency military leave to serve overseas.
When DeJohn produced copies of his written request to Temple, with copies of his orders to deploy, Temple officials then attributed the situation to “computer error.” He eventually was allowed back into school and worked on his master’s degree in American and Military History.
However, two professors whose classes he took, Gregory Urwin’s “Comparative History of Modern Warfare” and Immerman’s “American Diplomatic History,” included diatribes against President Bush, the military and the war, he said.
During the course of those lectures, DeJohn expressed his opinion.
He also finished his thesis, “The Sherman Tank in World War II: For Want of a Gun,” in 2005 following payments for “thesis guidance” to the school, but he claims because of the dispute, the school simply declined to address his project.
The primary reader of his thesis, Dr. Jay Lockenour, was ready to sign off on it but when DeJohn needed a secondary reader, Urwin refused to approve it. He said Lockenour apparently believed it would be resolved, and advised him to register to graduate in May 2005, but it didn’t happen.
Despite those circumstances, DeJohn said Temple reported to his student loan companies that he had obtained a diploma, causing his loans in the amount of $50,000 to default, damaging his credit.
DeJohn said he believed Temple had initiated a campaign against him, punishing him for openly discussing his opinions while he was a student. He even wrote to Temple’s president, David Adamany, seeking his help regarding the obstacles he was facing.
Subsequently, when asked under oath if he was aware of DeJohn’s dilemma, Adamany denied knowledge of any allegations about violations of academic freedoms. DeJohn, also under oath, produced copies of their communication. Shortly thereafter, in a front page story in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Jan. 20, 2006, Adamany announced his resignation. Betzner insists that Adamany “retired.”
DeJohn eventually sought help from Accuracy in Academia and a Pennsylvania state representative, and later followed the discrimination complaint filed by the Alliance Defense Fund.
But today, DeJohn’s academic status remains in limbo because his status of his thesis hasn’t been resolved.
And Temple’s campaign apparently even has gone beyond that. DeJohn reported that when he applied for a job as historian at The Army Military History Institute at The Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania, professor Gregory Urwin e-mailed Michael Lynch, one of his former students who worked there, saying that he understood that DeJohn had applied for the job. Urwin stated that all veterans are “mentally imbalanced because they have been trained to kill by the Army.”
Though DeJohn was never interviewed for the post, through a Freedom of Information Act request, he obtained documents showing that he was rated No. 1 out of 62 candidates for that position.
Gee, if I am such an enemy to American veterans, why does the American military keep making use of my services? (See the story below from the CLA Web Site.)
The Michael Lynch that DeJohn keeps slandering is a retired major in the U.S. Army? Are we supposed to believe that he is anti-veteran or could be persuaded to blackball someone simply because he is a veteran?
The U.S. Army Military History Institute, which refuses to give DeJohn a permanent job after he interned there, is not only an agency of the Army, but it is staffed predominantly by veterans. Does anybody with a brain in his or her head really think they do not want DeJohn as an employee because he belongs to the National Guard?
Read the transcripts from the April 2007 case, DeJohn v. Temple University, which was thrown out of federal court by a judge appointed by George H. W. Bush, and you will be able to see the truth buried under all the unsubstantiated falsehoods printed above.
From the College of Liberal Arts Web Site
Prof Flies the Pacific with U.S. Marines
On August 19, 2009, the U.S. Marine Corps flew Dr. Gregory J. W. Urwin, professor of history at Temple University, to Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) — some 25 miles from Hiroshima. There he linked up with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 (the “Wake Island Avengers”), which was preparing to redeploy to its home base at Yuma MCAS. Urwin’s mission was to accompany VMA-211 to Wake Island, a barren atoll 2,000 miles west of Hawaii. There VMA-211’s predecessor organization, Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 211, helped defend the atoll from numerically superior Japanese air, naval, and land forces from December 8 to 23, 1941. Once on Wake, Urwin conducted battlefield tours for VMA-211 personnel, putting them in touch in a vivid fashion with their Marine forebears. Urwin is the author of _Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island_, which won the 1998 top historical book award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and inspired the two-hour documentary special that aired on the History Channel in 2003, “Wake Island — Alamo of the Pacific.” The book has since become a cult favorite in Marine circles. During Urwin’s time with VMA-211, he enjoyed many unusual experiences denied to most civilians or academics. He was allowed to closely observe squadron preparations for depature on both VMA-211’s flight line and in its briefing room. He flew from Japan to Wake Island on a C-130 Air Force transport plane and from Wake to Hawaii in an Air Force KC-10 Extender (or flying tanker). The crew of the latter allowed Urwin to sit in the refueling cockpit, where he snapped a series of spectacular photographs of VMA-211’s Harrier jets as they closed within 50 feet of him to top off their fuel tanks. The threat of a mid-Pacific typhoon delayed VMA-211 from leaving Japan for three days, which gave Urwin all the more time to observe what it takes to maintain American power along the fringes of East Asia. He also received a chance to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where the first atomic bomb used in human warfare detonated, which reminded him of the terrible costs exacted by human conflict. As a military historian whose graduate students include retired and serving members of the American military, Urwin welcomed this chance to gain additional exposure to their culture and to observe the skills, dedication, and technology that continue to make the United States a global superpower. Urwin finally returned to Philadelphia early on August 28, three days before the opening of Temple University’s 2009 Fall Semester.
Well, I am glad Mr. DeJohn decided to comment here (if it really is him), because it saved me from having to bring him up for the first time. That anyone can write the following sentence with a straight face just boggles the mind:
“Temple’s track record on freedom of speech so far has been relatively unscathed, and branding itself with the infamous “d” word – diversity – causes First Amendment policies to be integral to the mood of this campus.” Yeah, it is “relatively unscathed” allright.
The next one is even more hilarious. Seriously is the author of this piece trying to be facetious, or is he just that ignorant? The latter is evidenced by the following sentence:
“Limiting free speech has not been a significant problem on Temple’s campus, but there have been many cases of universities trying to regulate the thoughts of its students.”
Hello, was the “author” of this article living in a cave when the Third Circuit Court of Appeals smacked down Temple for its egregious infringement of students’ First Amendment rights? Seriously, “writing” an “article” about freedom of expression on Temple’s campus without mention DeJohn v. Temple University (hey don’t you think that name maybe gives it away) is akin to talking about the solar system without mentioning the Sun. What a joke.
Hey Greg, you need to read up on your legal history a little bit. DeJohn v. Temple University was not thrown out by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the lower court which had ruled (and I will use all caps for those who are tempted to believe your lie)THAT TEMPLE”S SPEECH CODE WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Court stated that Temple’s speech code “provides no shelter for core protected speech” While it is true that Mr. DeJohn was awarded minimal damages, the statement that De John v. Temple University “was thrown out of federal court by a judge appointed by George H. W. Bush” is a flat-out lie. Instead of telling others to read the transcipts, something you quite obviously did not do, perhaps you should read them yourself before you start stating falsehoods that can easily be refuted by simply going to google. Your statement on that particlular ruling is so wrong that it renders anything else you have to write meaningless.
“Read the transcripts from the April 2007 case…”. Yeah, I did, and the ruling went against Temple, genius.
I was referring to DeJohn’s case against me in which he claimed I discriminated against him as a conservative and veteran because I asked him to revise his M.A. thesis.
If you had actually read the trial transcripts from late April 2007 you would know that — unless you are willfully trying to spread untruths.
See the following from the History News Network: http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/38280.html.
Richard H. Immerman and Gregory J.W. Urwin: Temple history profs cleared of bias claim by student who sued
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education (4-30-07)
After hearing a day and a half of testimony, a federal judge on Thursday abruptly dismissed a lawsuit brought against Temple University by a former student who alleged that his professors retaliated against him for his political views.
The student, Christian M. DeJohn, sued the university and two of his professors in February 2006, contending that the professors had thwarted his efforts to finish a master’s degree in history after he complained about receiving “antiwar” e-mail messages that were circulating in the history department.
The professors were Richard H. Immerman, director of the university’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy, and Gregory J.W. Urwin, a professor at the military-history center and Mr. DeJohn’s former academic adviser. The professors argued in court that Mr. DeJohn’s difficulties in finishing his degree were entirely his own. In an interview, their lawyer, Joe H. Tucker Jr., described Mr. DeJohn as a “marginal learner, barely passing” his courses, who had turned in a master’s thesis that had “flabbergasted” the professors.
The judge, Stewart Dalzell of the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, said that Mr. DeJohn’s lawyers had presented no evidence that Mr. Immerman retaliated against the student. And the judge said that, while the jury may have discerned some evidence that Mr. Urwin had retaliated against Mr. DeJohn, the professor deserved “qualified immunity,” which means that he behaved toward Mr. DeJohn in a way that could reasonably be seen as within his rights….