News & Politics

Professor Suspended 2 YEARS for Criticizing Ban on Anti-Gay Marriage Talk in Class

A professor at Marquette University has been suspended since December 2014 because, on his personal blog, he criticized a colleague who forbade students from questioning the propriety of gay marriage in her classroom.

Now, Marquette has ruled he can come back to work — if he issues an apology for having expressed his opinion:

Dr. John McAdams has been on paid suspension since December 2014 for a blog post in which he calls out another instructor, Cheryl Abbate, for telling students not to dispute the propriety of gay marriage in class because it would be “homophobic” to express opposition to the idea.

According to Watchdog, Marquette legal counsel Ralph Weber sent a letter to McAdams’ attorney on January 12 affirming that McAdams will remain suspended indefinitely because he has not not complied with university President Michael Lovell’s demand that he release a statement admitting “guilt” and apologizing for violating Marquette’s “Guiding Values.”

The punishment was handed down following a Faculty Hearing Committee investigation, which according to Weber not only concluded “that Dr. McAdams engaged in a serious instance of irresponsible conduct,” but also that he had “set himself on a course” likely to lead to repetitions of the behavior in question.

“President Lovell adopted those findings and thus required Dr. McAdams to provide a statement containing three elements: (1) acknowledgement and acceptance of the judgment of his peers; (2) affirming and committing to adherence to the standards of higher education at Marquette; and (3) acknowledgement that his blog post was reckless and incompatible with the mission and values of Marquette, and expressing regret for the harm suffered by Ms. Abbate,” Weber says.

Let’s take a look at Marquette’s “Guiding Values” for a moment:

Marquette University Guiding Values

Endorsed Dec. 8, 2014

In accordance with the Catholic, Jesuit mission and vision of Marquette University, we hold that all people and things are created to praise, reverence and serve God in our community and throughout the world, and thus every aspect of the university’s lifeblood and work holds this principle and foundation as its beginning and end. Therefore, we will enact the following values and behaviors in our lives and our work to serve the greater glory of God:

  • Pledge personal and holistic development of students as our primary institutional vocation
  • Pursue academic excellence and educate students who are men and women for and with others throughout the world
  • Embody a spirit of interdisciplinary curiosity, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and application to change and improve ourselves, our community and our world
  • Nurture an inclusive, diverse community that fosters new opportunities, partnerships, collaboration and vigorous yet respectful debate
  • Live as servant leaders with a commitment to the Jesuit tradition and Catholic social teaching for all people, beliefs and faith traditions
  • Create bold, ambitious plans enacted with agility, authentic accountability and a commitment to the greater good

Please, someone, explain to me how forbidding an opinion shared by a great many Catholics and Jesuits — the faiths Marquette is founded upon, after all — fosters “vigorous yet respectful debate”?

Sure sounds like Marquette has blatantly violated its own Guiding Principles.

A quick look at Dr. McAdams’ blog post shows that, while he was critical of his colleague, he supported his arguments and did not engage in any disrespectful behavior. Meanwhile, Professor Abbate — by forbidding discussion on gay marriage, then informing a student who disagreed that he should drop the class — did the opposite.

Further, in the comments on his blog, McAdams defended Abbate’s legal right to limit discussion in such a way since the college is a private institution. He simply disagreed with her decision.

Dr. McAdam has said he won’t go gentle into that good night at Marquette, and I don’t blame him. If anyone is owed an apology, it’s him.