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Bowdoin College has lofted a censurious water balloon at Goldstein

April 24, 2009
Bowdoin College
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Wow, so many profs punished, so little time, so much like Bush Admin politics I can’t believe it.  Let’s censor the messenger, shall we, at Bowdoin College?  Ah yes, now even the president, Barry Something Or Other, is taking part in lofting the equivalent of an academic water balloon at Goldstein.  President Barry doesn’t say that Goldstein has to do anything besides a suggested apology to Goldstein’s peers, perhaps for not being nice, but it’s really unclear.

In the process of the investigation you also intentionally violated the Faculty Handbook by disclosing many of the details of this matter to various organizations and to the press.  In fact, the Bowdoin Orient reported that you went public with this matter in order to gain leverage over the College (“If everything remained confidential, the College basically has the power,” [Goldstein] said, “particularly if things go to a litigation stage, since the College has deep pockets.”). The Faculty Handbook is explicit in its requirement that all parties involved in the investigation should “strive to maintain confidentiality.” Your willful violation of this provision is regrettable and shows profound disrespect for your faculty colleagues. I believe you owe them a personal apology.

So somehow the fact that he “willfully violated” handbook rules, according to someone else’s opinion now means that Goldstein needs to sing the sorry song to the faculty members who are now crying in the hallways?  Really, People, are we dealing with adults?  President Barry says Goldstein owes them an apology?  Now Barry sounds like a grade school principal!

Since when do we have to like everyone we work with?  I have disliked plenty of people, have felt people have been “mean” and all that sort of thing, but this is work, not the playground.  And anyway, if you have spent any time on a playground, the rules are brutal.  But all that happens on the playground is a sorry rebuttal too.

Poor little Bowdoin College profs are apparently not capable of standing up for themselves, of handling the pressure of the huge and scary press of Inside Higher Ed who must be waiting like wolves to rip them to shreds, and with that in mind, President Barry writes a letter saying that he agrees with all the administration and Goldstein was bad for speaking with press.

President Barry says that Goldstein violated standards of publishing by figuring gradepoints to his own study, to which I would argue that figuring grade points differs among universities so there is no standard there.  President Barry then puts all the weight on Goldsteins supposed peers, says Goldstein should listen to his peers( who are obviously up for the Homecoming King and Queen’s Court), and then Goldstein should apologize to them.  How quaint, a peer-based muzzle!  Really, President Barry, are you inciting faculty riots?  Is this some sort of popularity contest among the peers?  A college faculty group in no way constitutes a judge and jury, but apparently President Barry, you have given them latitude to distribute the stinging punishment of putting a phrase in a letter saying there will be worse to come if Goldstein does this again:

You have been found guilty of research misconduct and breach of confidentiality by the unanimous vote of some of the most respected teachers and scholars in our community: your colleagues. That should be punishment enough and should serve to convey an important message to you.

I believe the sanction recommended by the Investigative Committee should be afforded great respect because it was rendered by your faculty peers. Accordingly, I place this letter, along with a copy of the Investigative Committee’s report, in your permanent file. As also recommended by the committee, you are hereby on notice that similar offenses in the future will yield more severe sanctions.

So, Goldstein, and apparently anyone else on Bowdoin’s Faculty, find yourself on notice that if you piss off Dean Judd, talk to the big baddies at Inside Higher Ed, and then talk to prospective parents, you will be given a letter asking you to apologize to the people you are mean to.  Notice that the members of the committee hand-picked by Dean Judd and President Barry are the “most respected” at Bowdoin College, not Goldstein, but no matter, even in the face of a stinging rebuttal from an educational group pushing for academic freedom, those “most respected faculty” (by whom, I wonder) say that you, Goldstein, are a bad boy.  Let that be a lesson to all you bad boys:   speaking with the press is not allowed at Bowdoin College unless President Barry and Dean Judd allow it, and neither is talking to incoming students or parents.  Oh, and by the way, you had better produce research that President Barry and Dean Judd agree with or you too will be the subject of 6 page letter.  As someone who has an 8 page letter, single spaced, from another Dean eventually ruled senile, I think I win the contest, but hey, I’m willing to open it up in the interest of academic freedom.

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