UMSL Defends Goal of Labor Union Class — While Probe Continues
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX)– The University of Missouri St. Louis is out with a new statement, defending a class that dealt with the role of violence and intimidation in organized labor.
The university says it continues to review hours of tapes from the class, and calls the original tapes released on a conservative blog that stirred outrage “highly edited.” Those tapes have since been taken down from Youtube.
The statement also says the instructor who resigned did so voluntarily, and his resignation was not coerced.
Here is the UMSL statement in its entirety:
May 5, 2011
The University of Missouri–St. Louis has a long and proud history of embracing diversity, civility, free speech and academic freedom. Those are the tenets upon which this campus was founded and its current administration operates. That’s why we want to thank those of you who have offered your advice and encouragement as UMSL continues to deal with a number of issues stemming from the posting of a highly-edited video [or videos] containing images and voices of faculty and students from UMSL and UMKC in a labor studies course. Neither UMSL nor UMKC gave permission for such usage – meaning that the individuals responsible have at a minimum violated student privacy rights and university intellectual property rights.
That being said, we have been dealing with the fallout. The manipulated video which first appeared on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website was made to appear that the faculty members advocated – in varying degrees – violence and intimidation in pursuit of union goals. The immediate negative public reaction therefore was understandable. The vitriol expressed was not. Members of the UM System community have received many abusive, demeaning and threatening e-mails and phone calls. Students, faculty and administrators have expressed concern for their safety as well as for the safety of their families. We are educators and administrators working, like you, to maintain and further build the best public metropolitan university possible. And we’ve approached this situation from that vantage point. We have launched a review, along with our colleagues at UMKC, of the unedited tape recordings of the courses which are delivered via interactive television. That review is still underway.
The UMSL adjunct faculty member who appears in the video orally offered his resignation early in the review process. Two days later, we orally accepted his resignation and issued a public statement as such. Based on subsequent conversations with him, it was agreed that he would indeed finish the semester before his resignation became effective. This has been a troubling issue as several higher education publications have inaccurately portrayed this as an affront to academic freedom. We did not coerce his resignation. The fact that UMSL has not received a written resignation does not alter the fact that the adjunct faculty member voluntarily offered to resign and that offer was accepted. We regret the confusion on this point. We will continue to work with our colleagues at UMKC and the UM System to determine actions that should be taken and policies that should be put into place resulting from what we learn.
In closing, we want to thank you also for your hard work and contributions to the campus and the
community it serves. We are enrolling and graduating more students than ever. We have experienced records in research funding and private gifts. And we have received recognition from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for our outreach and service. There is much of which to be proud and we are!