by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef’s latest Martin Center column discusses a professor who was fired for challenging a liberal canard.
Humorless, intolerant leftist academics are a force to be reckoned with on many college campuses, and a new case at the University of North Texas (UNT) pushes the envelope.
After earning his PhD in mathematics from Baylor University in spring 2019, Nathaniel Hiers found employment at UNT. He began teaching full-time as an adjunct faculty member in the fall semester—three sections of linear algebra and one of calculus. The mathematics department thought highly enough of Dr. Hiers that, in November, it notified him that he was invited to renew his contract for the coming semester. Hiers promptly emailed back to say he’d accept the school’s offer.
Trouble for Hiers began, however, on November 25. He was relaxing in the faculty lounge that afternoon, waiting for a colloquium to begin, and noticed a stack of fliers. They weren’t identified as a university document and had been left anonymously. The subject of the fliers was “microaggressions” and the argument they made was that such speech, although unintentional, is harmful to some individuals’ physical and psychological health. Therefore, faculty members were encouraged to avoid them.
The flier gave a number of examples of microaggression such as saying, “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” and “America is a land of opportunity.” …
… All that Hiers did after reading the flier was to write on the chalkboard, “Please don’t leave garbage lying around,” with an arrow pointing to the stack of them. He couldn’t imagine the trouble his jest would cause him.
On the afternoon of November 26, mathematics department chairman Ralf Schmidt sent an email to the entire department with a picture of Hiers’ chalkboard note and the text, “Would the person who did this please stop being a coward and see me in the chair’s office immediately.” Hiers did go to Schmidt’s office, where Schmidt made it clear that he objected to Hiers’ mockery. He called his chalkboard message “stupid” and insisted that he apologize for having expressed his derogatory thoughts about microaggressions.