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  • Key Case on Discrimination by University of Iowa Begins

    10/24/2012 12:01:13 PM Posted by Patrick Coyle

    Teresa Wagner2By Stephen Smoot

    Jury deliberations have begun in a landmark case about conservative discrimination.

    Teresa Wagner alleges that the University of Iowa College of Law refused to hire her because it knew of her conservative beliefs.  The university fired back, alleging that she interviewed poorly.

    Wagner has produced evidence to back her claim.  According to CNN contributor Will Kain:

    Wagner's evidence includes e-mails from the law school's associate dean, warning her to hide a job offer from Ave Maria School of Law, which is perceived to be conservative. During the faculty meeting to vote on whether Wagner should be hired, it was mentioned that she holds conservative beliefs. And after her rejection, the same associate dean sent an e-mail to the dean, asking whether Wagner's political beliefs had been considered in the vote.

    The school at the time advertised for two positions. Wagner and one other instructor applied.  He was hired and the university stated that it no longer wished to fill the other position.  Wagner had produced professional publications, prior teaching experience, and positive evaluations as part of her application. 

    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, with some exceptions, that states cannot use ideology as a test for hiring.  This does exclude political appointees by the chief executive, for instance.  But not a college.

    A 2005 study shows the seriousness of the problem.  In "Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty," Stanley Rothman found that nearly 75 percent of American college faculty were liberal.

    Even worse, Rothman and his researchers concluded that conservatives of equal professional accomplishment with their liberal peers ended up at colleges of lower regard.  They said that "complaints of ideologically based discrimination in academic advancement deserve some consideration and further study."

    Also, women and devout Christians faced the same level of discrimination on these liberal dominated campuses.

    Teresa Wagner, a woman who is a conservative and a practicing Christian, should soon hear the verdict in her discrimination case.  Most have already judged higher education guilty as charged.

    Stephen Smoot is the Director for Academic Programs for the National Journalism Center.

     

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