Date: December 21st, 2014 3:33 PM
Author: Talented wine newt trust fund
Teaching assistant leaving Marquette amid McAdams controversy
By Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel
Dec. 19, 2014
A graduate student teaching assistant is leaving Marquette University after being publicly targeted by a tenured professor for her response to a student who wanted to argue against gay marriage in her ethics class, according to a national blog for philosophy professionals.
Teaching assistant Cheryl Abbate will transfer next month to the philosophy PhD program at the University of Colorado, Boulder, after being accepted through an expedited admissions process, according to the Daily Nous blog for philosophy professionals maintained by Justin Weinberg, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina.
Several sources independently confirmed that Abbate received "vile" emails and threats of physical harm after Marquette associate professor John McAdams accused her in a Nov. 9 post on his conservative-leaning Marquette Warrior blog of "using a tactic typical among liberals now" with the student.
"Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed 'offensive' and need to be shut up," he wrote.
The McAdams blog post captured national media attention and international attention from widely divergent groups: largely conservative free speech advocates supporting McAdams' right to blog his opinions and a student's right to argue against gay marriage in a class, and professors and teaching assistants who criticized McAdams for publicly calling out a graduate student and exposing her to political labeling and public condemnation.
The university on Tuesday notified McAdams, who teaches political science, that he is under review, has been relieved of all duties and must stay off campus until further notice unless he receives written permission from the dean of the Klingler College of Letters and Sciences.
Several sources said Abbate was nearing the end of her doctoral program, writing her dissertation, when she decided to leave Marquette.
McAdams' conduct, Brown University professor Bonnie Honig said on an online petition supporting Abbate, "violates every expectation of graduate training and collegiality. It is a betrayal of the trust invested in faculty to mentor and guide students, not to make of them casualties in larger battles whether inside or outside their institutions."
On Thursday, Marquette issued a statement that said, in part: "We want to emphasize that all of our graduate student teaching assistants are students first. As students, they are learning their craft and it is our expectation that they are mentored and supported by our faculty."
Weinberg said in his Daily Nous blog post that he had corresponded with Abbate, and she passed on the following: "Although the past month has been a very difficult and distressing time for me, the support and encouragement I have received from philosophers around the world has made this all the more bearable.
"I would like to thank each and every individual who sent a personal message to me, sent a letter to the Marquette administration on my behalf, and/or signed one of the online statements of support. ... Please know that your messages made all of the difference to me and I am truly touched and inspired by the concern and kindness demonstrated by those who took the time to reach out to me."
About Karen Herzog
Karen Herzog covers higher education. She also has covered public health and was part of a national award-winning team that took on Milwaukee's infant mortality crisis.