How About a Little Free Speech Protection for Unprotected Adjunct Professors?: New at Reason

Students aren’t the only ones on campus struggling with the First Amendment.

Liz Wolfe writes:

Kenneth Storey, an adjunct sociology professor at the University of Tampa, was recently fired after he insinuated on Twitter that Hurricane Harvey was “karma” for Texans voting “red” in the last election. After vague “discussions” with Storey—and a fair bit of criticism from the American Association of University Professors—the university technically reinstated him and accepted his resignation.

This past spring, Lars Maischak, an adjunct history professor at Fresno State, tweeted, “To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better,” hashtag, “the resistance.” Breitbart caught wind of this and made him famous. Maischak won’t be teaching this semester, despite the fact that his contract doesn’t technically expire until next year.

And Kevin Allred, an adjunct at Montclair State in New Jersey, got fired for a tweet several weeks before he even started teaching. When Allred tweeted he wished someone would just shoot Trump, Montclair administrators denied that the school had ever hired Allred.

This pattern is playing out again and again as colleges attempt to avoid the backlash from professors getting politically aggressive online. It’s a given colleges should be able to fire bad professors and replace them with better ones. But it’s often hard to figure out when colleges are firing adjuncts because they’re incompetent and unfit, or because they’re afraid of bad publicity and student protest.

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