Tolerance is a One-Way Street at Roosevelt University
Editor’s note: On February 20 the Cook County Circuit Court Judge in the case of Gillian John-Charles v. Roosevelt University denied the University’s summary judgment motion in its entirety. The Court had previously denied the University’s motion to dismiss.
The University has now exhausted all pre-trial obstacles. The case now heads for trial. The next matter on the docket is a pre-trial conference set for March 27.
An interesting lawsuit is making its way through the courts involving a student who was kicked out of a doctoral program at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Since the story paints a clear picture of how proponents of the LGBTQI (etc.) agenda behave, it’s doubtful you’ll learn about it through the dishonest press which is as determined to hide the truth as Pravda and Izvestia were in the old Soviet Union.
The facts of the case certainly don’t fit the narrative that’s allowed to be reported by most of the big American media outlets. Ms. Gillian John-Charles is the doctoral student; she’s 35, a single mother with two graduate degrees who teaches math in a Chicago public school. Her mistake was disagreeing with the politically left wing Roosevelt University’s party line when it comes to the nature of homosexuality.
Incidents like this one are increasingly familiar to Americans who get their news and information from sources other than places like the Chicago Tribune, the Associated Press, Google News or CNN and CBS. Facts don’t matter; if a news story might have a negative impact on the public’s perception of those pushing the LGBTQI agenda it is not allowed to see the light of day.
Bill Muehlenberg, who writes the column “Culture Watch,” recently posted this:
If homosexuals were once the object of intolerance, the exact opposite is now the case. The oppressed have become the oppressor, and those who dare to stand in their way had better watch out. As Michael Brown rightly states, “Today, those who have come out of the closet are trying to put their ideological opponents into the closet; those preaching tolerance have become the most intolerant; those calling for inclusion are now the most exclusionary; those celebrating diversity demand absolute uniformity.”
The lawsuit brought by Ms. John-Charles is, in many ways, the perfect illustration of how the left seeks to silence and punish any voice that speaks in opposition to their extremist position. They wish to be thorough, which means a liberal university doesn’t want any of its doctoral recipients to vary from the one and only accepted viewpoint.
What follows is an outline of the facts taken from a letter to the university sent by Gillian John-Charles’ attorney, Doug Ibendahl. The letter can be read in full here. It states that she retained counsel “to represent her in matters related to her wrongful and retaliatory discharge from the doctoral program administered by Roosevelt University and specifically the College of Education, Department of Educational Leadership (the “EdD Program”).”
Early on in the letter is this:
Based on our ongoing investigation, it is clear that Roosevelt University (the “University”) and its agents have exhibited disturbing intolerance and discriminated against Ms. John-Charles on the basis of her race, gender, as well as her personal beliefs and political views; have unlawfully retaliated against Ms. John-Charles for attempting to protect her reputation and pursuing her legal rights; defamed her; and have terminated Ms. John-Charles from the EdD Program in violation of public policy.
The letter explains that it was sent “for the purpose of encouraging the University to remedy the severe harm it has inflicted upon Ms. John-Charles through its unlawful and disgraceful conduct.” Of course they didn’t, so a lawsuit was filed.
At a minimum the University owes Gillian John-Charles a formal, public apology, and she should be afforded the opportunity for reinstatement to the EdD Program without further delay. She is an outstanding individual and student who deserves the opportunity to complete the endeavor to which she devoted two years of her life and hard work, as well as tens-of-thousands of dollars.
Frankly given the behavior Ms. John-Charles witnessed and the treatment she endured at the University, no one would blame her for never wanting to return. However, she has so much work and money invested at this point, and is so close to completing her doctorate degree – it would be ridiculously unfair for her to be forced to throw all of that away.
The University clearly has incredibly serious problems both at the teaching and administrative levels. The presence of someone of Ms. John-Charles’ caliber on campus would provide at least some hope for the future of the University.
The section of the letter titled “Factual Background” contains the basic biographic information about Ms. John-Charles. She’s a full time mathematics teacher at Kenwood Academy High School on the South Side of Chicago where she teaches five classes of college algebra. Ms. John-Charles holds two graduate degrees:
Master of Science in Computer Science, awarded by Illinois State University in 1999; and Master of Arts in Mathematics Education, awarded by DePaul University in 2005.
Ms. John-Charles began the EdD Program in the Fall Semester of 2009. While maintaining her full time teaching responsibilities at Kenwood Academy, she completed twelve (12) classes towards her doctorate degree, together with the other members of her cohort in the EdD Program.
Incredibly, on top of all these demands on her time and energy, Ms. John-Charles is also a single mom raising a toddler son.
Only one more year is required for Ms. John-Charles to satisfy the class requirements for her doctorate degree.
When the University ousted Ms. John-Charles, after punishing her for her personal beliefs and opinions, the EdD Program cohort lost its only black female student. (The only remaining black male student left the cohort at approximately the same time, reportedly voluntarily.)
Under the subheading “Intimidation and Censorship in the Classroom” the inciting incident is outlined:
On October 5, 2010, Ms. John-Charles attended the third class meeting of her ethics course (ELOC 680) taught by Professor Gregory M. Hauser. The class was discussing the work of author and education reformer John Dewey. Dr. Hauser related Dewey’s belief that absent “scientific backing,” material should not be taught in school. Dr. Hauser cited evolution and creationism as examples.
Dr. Hauser then asked the class if anyone had other topics they believed should not be taught in school. One of Ms. John-Charles’ fellow students suggested sex education, but added that it would be appropriate if relating to sex anatomy and reproduction. Another student added it would be appropriate in a health class and as part of teaching about sexually transmitted diseases.
Dr. Hauser again queried the class as to subjects Dewey would say should not be discussed. Ms. John-Charles stated abstinence, and Dr. Hauser agreed, saying that would be more consistent with a religious viewpoint.
As class discussion continued, Dr. Hauser asked the students how they would treat topics related to being gay and/or gay relationships, or whether such topics would even be appropriate according to Dewey. The discussion progressed and at some point Ms. John-Charles mentioned that it was her own personal belief that a person is not born gay. Dr. Hauser then began to directly grill Ms. John-Charles. When asked what she would say to a gay or lesbian student, Ms. John-Charles indicated that she didn’t understand the nature of the question because a person’s sexual orientation has no bearing on her conversation with anyone. Ms. John-Charles told Dr. Hauser that she treats all of her students the same and makes no distinction for race, sex, religious belief, or sexual orientation.
In light of Dr. Hauser’s aggressive tone, Ms. John-Charles felt the need to make it clear to Dr. Hauser that she had absolutely nothing against gay students. Whether someone is gay or straight is a non-issue for her. While her fellow students were nodding their heads indicating approval and understanding, Dr. Hauser forcefully interjected that he disagreed and further accused Ms. John-Charles of having an opinion on gay people that was “negative and disparaging.”
Ms. John-Charles was highly offended by Dr. Hauser’s comment and left the classroom to compose herself. Two classmates followed to console her. Both students told Ms. John-Charles they felt Dr. Hauser’s behavior was inappropriate and unprofessional.
After several minutes discussing the incident with Ms. John-Charles’ classmates, all agreed it would probably be best if she skipped the remainder of the class. Ms. John-Charles returned to the classroom, gathered her belongings and walked back out to leave for the evening. Yet another classmate followed her out and expressed his concern at the treatment Ms. John-Charles had received from Dr. Hauser. After thanking that student for his concern and support, Ms. John-Charles encouraged him to return to class, which he eventually did.
In the days following the October 5th class, the professor requested a meeting with Ms. John-Charles. Ms. John-Charles was hoping the two could put the unpleasant events behind them. According to the letter, “These hopes were immediately dashed when Ms. John-Charles arrived and experienced Dr. Hauser’s angry and aggressive demeanor.”
Dr. Hauser began the meeting by advising Ms. John-Charles, for the first time, that he was contacting the Dean (Dr. Thomas Philion) to see if he could also meet. After Dr. Philion arrived, Dr. Hauser launched into a belligerent attack on Ms. John-Charles over her previous classroom comment regarding her personal belief that persons are not born gay. Dr. Hauser then began an even more aggressive interrogation of Ms. John-Charles. She found the professor’s statements and attitude extremely offensive, and his accusations ridiculous and insulting. Among the absurd accusations, Dr. Hauser told Ms. John-Charles (in the presence of Dr. Philion), that she had an intolerant attitude toward gay people – a statement as false as it is defamatory. Dr. Hauser went on to tell Ms. John-Charles that she did not belong in the doctoral program.
The harassment didn’t stop there. Ms. John-Charles reached out for advice from a professor at another university who suggested she begin taping the classes. She did so in plain sight of the professor and her classmates and no one objected. At the next class Dr. Hauser started by saying electronic devices were no longer going to be allowed. Here’s a paragraph from Ms. John-Charles attorney’s letter:
Seven of Ms. John-Charles’ classmates have signed a statement attesting that each had previously used some form of electronic device openly in Dr. Hauser’s class without incident or sanction, or even mention by Dr. Hauser whatsoever. Ms. John-Charles provided this list of student signatures to University officials while she was defending herself against a bad faith complaint.
If you think the people at Roosevelt University can’t get any more idiotic, keep reading. The following paragraphs are from under the section of the letter titled, “The frivolous complaint against Ms. John-Charles”:
[O]n January 10, 2011, Ms. John-Charles received an email from Eric Tammes, Assistant Vice President for Student Services, which stated in pertinent part as follows:
I have received a formal complaint that alleges your involvement in the violation of the following codes of student conduct at Roosevelt University:
3. Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research administration, disciplinary procedures, or other University activities, including its public service functions, or of other authorized activities on University premises.
10. Failure to comply with directions of University officials acting in the performance of their duties.
Clearly this was Dr. Hauser’s clumsy attempt to play an immature “gotcha” game on Ms. John-Charles. Utilizing the testimony of her fellow students, Ms. John-Charles is prepared to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dr. Hauser had actual knowledge of the tape recorder in his classroom on October 19, 2010, but said nothing. He then feigns outrage and files a formal complaint against the only black woman in the class because he’s intolerant of her views and beliefs.
John-Charles’ attorney Doug Ibendahl added this: “I have searched but have yet to find another case or report anywhere in America involving a university professor who filed a complaint against one of his or her own students for tape recording a class.”
Here is the opening of the section “Complaint by Ms. John-Charles”:
On November 11, 2010, Ms. John-Charles filed a formal complaint with the University against Dr. Hauser specifically describing in considerable detail the harassment, censorship, discrimination, as well as the violations of her civil liberties including, but not limited to freedom of speech and academic freedom which she experienced and was currently experiencing on campus. Ms. John-Charles’ complaint also described the environment she experienced at the University which she found to be both hostile and threatening.
Dr. Renate I. Rohde issued the initial dismissal of Ms. Charles complaint, and Ms. John-Charles appealed that decision. Ms. John-Charles received a response to her appeal from Dr. Holly A. Stadler, Dean, College of Education, on January 10, 2011 (the exact same day Ms. John-Charles received an email from Eric Tammes serving notice of Dr. Hauser’s “complaint” against her, as discussed above). In her response, Dr. Stadler doesn’t even attempt to seriously address the allegations made by Ms. John-Charles. Instead Dr. Stadler blames the victim and provides evidence of collusion with Dr. Hauser.
Dr. Stadler’s letter states in pertinent part, “What I do see in your complaint is that you were treated differently than other students in the class based on your verbal behavior in class that demonstrated your lack of current knowledge about the topic of homosexuality.”
There’s more – the childish behavior of the professor and university administrators is worth reading about in full. Here is just how the summary of the complaint concludes:
The evidence overwhelmingly supports a conclusion that the University’s response to a victim of alleged harassment and discrimination is apparently in effect, “she asked for it.” By refusing to blindly accept a professor’s view on a question that continues to be the subject of reasonable disagreement and debate among both laymen and scientific experts, the University is apparently telling Ms. John-Charles she deserved the shameful and discriminatory treatment she received.
A year after the initial classroom incident Ms. John-Charles was dismissed from the EdD program.
In a letter dated October 11, 2011, Dean Holly Stadler advised that she was supporting the decision to dismiss Ms. John-Charles from the EdD Program. Dr. Stadler further stated that her determination constituted the final state of the review process of Ms. John-Charles’ appeal.
Dr. Stadler’s letter also stated in pertinent part as follows:
“Your history in this program has been one of poor grades in several courses and dispositional observations that merit concern about your performance as a doctoral student.”
At the time of her dismissal Ms. John-Charles had received an ‘A’ or ‘A-’ in eight of the twelve classes she’d completed and her grade point average was 3.51.
Ms. John-Charles’ attorney’s letter addressed the charge of “dispositional observations” in detail and then writes:
As far as the reference to this apparently refers to a so-called “Assessment Rubric” established for each class pursuant to the “COE Dispositions Assessment Policies and Procedures.” This is a program which was not implemented until long after Ms. John-Charles began the EdD Program at the University. In fact the subject “COE Dispositions Assessment Policies and Procedures” were not approved by the COE Academic Council until August 12, 2010.
The record is filled with the kind hearsay, frivolity and immature drama that one might expect to read in a high school student’s diary – but not in an official evaluation report written by a University professor.
It is absolutely unfathomable that the University is making final decisions that will have such an enormous bearing on a student’s future career and personal life – on the basis of this kind of subjective, superficial fluff. If one or two professors decide a student isn’t popular enough with the right clique, out they go after some unsubstantiated blackballing. It really is a lot like high school, except here the University first pockets tens-of-thousands of dollars from the student before deciding that her views and opinions make her too unpopular.
[Comments made in the record] reveal what’s really at the core of this case. Ms. John-Charles is a proud, smart, extremely accomplished black woman who refuses to play the victim. Absolutely she’ll stand up for her rights, but she completely rejects the idea that black people can’t achieve on the same level as whites. Ms. John-Charles refuses to mindlessly say and do what the masters of the liberal plantation decree. She’s a walking, everyday reminder to some at the University that their life-long ambition to “take care of” minorities is hollow to the core. Ms. John-Charles had to be silenced and exiled.
Since readers might enjoy the attorney’s summary at the end of the letter, here it is in its entirety. It truly captures the heart of the matter. This case is yet another example of how increasingly those preaching “tolerance” are anything but.
An excellent article in the Summer 2011 edition of the Roosevelt Review entitled “The Drake Effect” tells the fascinating story of an icon from the early days of your institution, Professor St. Clair Drake.
The article quotes Dr. John Bracey, University alum (and now a professor himself), this way: “Drake was all about intellectual discourse. Integrity was important to him and standing on one’s beliefs was essential.”
Dr. Middleton, what do you think Professor Drake would say about the way your University, Professor Drake’s University, has treated Ms. John-Charles?
Your University loves to brag that it’s all about “social justice.” Maybe in the past that was true. However today we have cases like this one involving Ms. John-Charles which expose to the world just how tired and hackneyed the University’s whole “social justice” shtick has become.
Sir, if we are forced to move to formal litigation, both sides will obviously explore and expand on the facts relevant to this case. But here is a fact of this case and it is undisputed: Roosevelt University drummed-out of its EdD Program the only black female student in the cohort, a single mom who was and is teaching mathematics full time, and very successfully, in the Chicago Public School system.
And oh yes, a black single mom, full time Chicago Public School teacher with a cumulative 3.51 GPA on the day the University threw her out on the phony charge of unsatisfactory academic performance. (Obviously Ms. John-Charles’ GPA would be even more impressive if not for the alleged discriminatory grading by two professors as discussed herein.)
Originally published in June 2013 at johnbiver.com.
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