A professor who used a vulgar racial term while arguing with a student about a political demonstration is likely to face a reprimand, but will be allowed to continue teaching, Washington State University President Lane Rawlins said.
Professor John Streamas used the term “White (expletive)” while arguing with College Republicans on Nov. 2. The students had erected a 24-foot chain-link fence on a busy part of the campus to show support for the Bush administration’s plan for a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico
“His comments were totally inappropriate, and I think he knows that,” Rawlins told KREM television of Spokane. He added: “One utterance of a faculty member in the heat of discussion is not the kind of thing for which you terminate someone. But we are looking at reprimands, at whether this is a pattern of behavior.”
The demonstration drew a crowd of protesters who hurled accusations of racism at the Republicans, and the reactions of Streamas and another professor, David Leonard, made the event a hot topic on radio talk shows and cable television programs nationwide.
Leonard demanded that College Republicans member Daniel Schanze stop filming him during the demonstration. When Schanze didn’t stop, Leonard demanded to see his student identification card.
Schanze called it a “gross display of power” and an attempt to stifle his opinions; Leonard later apologized for his actions in a letter posted on http://www.cougster.com.
Another student, Dan Ryder, said Streamas called him a “White (expletive).” Streamas acknowledged using the term, but said it wasn’t directed at any individual.
Rawlins said the area of campus where the demonstration occurred is a public place, where speech is protected by the First Amendment. But, he said, professors are also expected to set good examples and follow the faculty code of conduct.
Schanze and Ryder said they planned to file formal complaints against the professors through WSU’s Center for Human Rights; it was not immediately known if they had done so or what punishment Leonard might face.
In an e-mail last month, Streamas said the fence was a provocative and racist symbol.
“It is a violently racist symbol, no different from Nazis carrying a swastika through a Jewish neighborhood or the KKK rallying around a Confederate flag in a Black neighborhood,” he wrote.
Streamas and Leonard are professors in the Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies.
Video of Professor John Streamas arguing with WSU College Republicans:
Dr. John Streamas’ profile and bio (WSU site):
Reader comments on this story:
There are currently 5 reader comments on this story:
“pray for healing”
-Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner,
“where’s the even-handedness?”
“fear and hatred”
-Larry R. Shannon,
“shame on the staff”
Port Jefferson, NY
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com