As Ethics Alarms noted back in August (which seems like years ago), the University of Central Florida set out to destroy Professor Negy, who was tenured and has taught at the university for decades by inviting students to bring formal complaints against him “based on abusive or discriminatory behavior by any faculty or staff.” Students were already demanding his dismissal because he dared to post the accurate tweet above, but the institution knew it couldn’t fire him for that.
Negy’s lawyer,Samantha K. Harris, described the process:
Since June 4th, a litany (we don’t know the exact number, because they won’t say) of complaints has been lodged against Negy for his classroom pedagogy, for speech that allegedly occurred over a 15-year period from 2005 to 2020. The university charged Negy with discriminatory harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, sex, gender identity/expression, and disability…while providing him with only a handful of “examples” of his alleged wrongdoing. … the university subjected Negy to an “investigative interview” that was one of the most Kafkaesque things I have seen in my 15 years advising students and faculty about campus disciplinary matters. For four straight hours, UCF’s investigator grilled Negy about accusations stemming directly from his classroom pedagogy, having made no effort to weed out the countless accusations that were obviously just critiques of his choice of teaching material….When Negy, physically and emotionally exhausted after four hours of interrogation, asked if the interview was almost over, we learned that the investigator had not even gotten halfway through her list of accusations. Another five-hour inquisition was scheduled for the following week.
This investigation was obviously undertaken in retaliation for Negy’s protected tweets… How many professors are going to be willing to speak out if the result is a nine-hour inquisition followed by an almost inevitable punishment?…Cases like this are canaries in the coal mine: if a public university—a government agency—can treat someone this way for deviating from the university’s orthodoxy, and face no accountability for doing so, then what (and who) is next? The answer, of course, is you and me. We are next. If decent people do not take a stand against these abuses, it’s not a matter of if the state-endorsed mob will come for us—it’s only a matter of when.
When, as we now can see, has arrived.