Florida Professor Put On Leave After Allegedly Passing Out Pledges To Vote For Obama In Class

This week I spoke at the Lou Frey Institute on Constitutional Day at the University of Central Florida and students were particularly interested in the controversy surrounding Professor Sharon Sweet at Brevard Community College (BCC) in Florida. Sweet, 58, is now on leave after she allegedly told students to sign a pledge that reads: “I pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket.”

Sweet reportedly took the pledge from GottaVote.org, a website funded by the Obama campaign.

Florida law states in Section 104.31, of Title IX in chapter 104, states that “no officer or employee of the state… shall… use his or her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election or nomination of officer or influencing another person’s vote or affecting the result thereof.”

The School has suspended Sweet without pay from her $40,000 a year job teaching college algebra and math  (which also shows the shockingly low pay for college professors in the state). Sweet is notably not listed with the faculty. If the allegations are true, the pledge forms should be treated as an extremely serious breach for an academic. Not only does it violate Florida law, it clearly destroys basic requirements for a learning environment, particularly for non-Obama supporters.

41 thoughts on “Florida Professor Put On Leave After Allegedly Passing Out Pledges To Vote For Obama In Class

  1. Deplorable.

    what might be very damaging to her case would have been what she would have done to anyone who refused to sign the pledge.

    I know this might be a rather limited example but it is incidents such as this that make me glad I am not a college student because I know I would not be able to keep my mouth shut when behaviors such as this are displayed by faculty members.

    When my wife changed careers and went into nursing school at colleges here it was nearly a monthly event where one of her instructors would pull some stunt like this. Several instructors openly preached a partucular political view and were obviously dismissive of any student who disagreed. My wife was quite upset about this and I told her to report the teacher to the administration but she feared her grades would be affected if she did.

    The worst example came when my wife befriended another woman who was either a Russian or Ukranian immigrant who was taking general studies classes. The friend elected to enter the nursing program and my wife encouranged her. Later, the friend told my wife the head of the nursing program met with her to review her application. The faculty member told the woman her “accent was too thick” and due to this she was unsuited to be a nurse and denied her entry into the program.

    When I heard this I was outraged. But my wife again was afraid to report this despite that it was clearly a civil rights violation and a liability for the school. Let’s just say this faculty member is no longer working for the school. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  2. This might be a made-up story. It sounds too stupid to be true. And in Florida if something sounds too stupid to be true, it has to be stooooooooooPID! :mrgreen:

  3. There seems to be no dispute amongst media reports that Professor Sharon Sweet of Brevard Community College asked the students in her class to sign a pledge that said “I pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket.” Sweet has since asked for, and been granted, an unpaid leave of absence.

    Here’s what’s in dispute: did she ask them to sign it, suggest that they sign it, require them to sign it, or order them to sign it?

    It depends on who’s reporting.

    Florida today says “urged.” Channel 13 says “solicited” and “urged.” Human Events says “urged.”

    But Pat Dollard says “required” and “told,” and The Blaze says “forcing” and “required.”

    Do Dollard and The Blaze have some inside source feeding them evidence that Sweet used coercion rather than inappropriate, unprofessional, and illegal persuasion? Are they making a hidden argument that a community college professor’s suggestion in this context is inherently so coercive as to justify “forced” and “required”?

    Or was the reported story just not sufficiently cinematic for them? Are they just full of shit?

    I hate campus electioneering towards captive audiences. (And it’s worse when it’s electioneering for very stupid people, like “vote straight ticket.”) If Sharon Sweet did this during class, they should fire her ass forthwith.

    But why make stuff up to make it sound worse?

    It’s the silly season. Bear in mind — 95% of what you hear that includes the word “Obama” or “Romney” is bullshit. Popehat

  4. Many University Professors push their political point of view and many Universities are known for their partisan professorships, both on the Left and on the Right. How far do you think a Socialist Economics student would get at the University of Chicago? When I was working on my Masters at Columbia, I had a Professor Richard Cloward, whose book “Regulating the Poor” had led to the disastrous “Welfare Strikes” in the late 60’s. since I was working in Welfare at the time and had worked with the group that organized the strikes, via my Union, I had inside knowledge of the mistake that these strikes made and how they hurt the Welfare client. In class I confronted Cloward about this
    in 1978 and he was none to pleased. At Columbia I was mostly an “A” student which was how I won my full scholarship, but not surprisingly I only got a C+ in Cloward’s course.

    That said, if true, then I think the Professor deserves at least a reprimand, but
    proof is required.

  5. This post, combined w/ the prior Ca. professor one, makes for a depressing morning. Is it too early for a shot and beer?

  6. Encouraging students to vote is good citizenship. Telling students for whom they should vote is not. I fully support the view Prof Turley expressed when he wrote:

    “If the allegations are true, the pledge forms should be treated as an extremely serious breach for an academic. Not only does it violate Florida law, it clearly destroys basic requirements for a learning environment, particularly for non-Obama supporters.” with the caveat that it destroys the basic requirements for a learning environment for any student, even those inclined to support Obama.

  7. What Blouise, Mike S. and Swarthmore Mom said. If true, the professor should be disciplined according to university policy and state law. I, too was shocked to read how little she is paid.

  8. Mark me in the Blouise/Mike/Smom column.

    If true, this is simply unacceptable behavior in an academic environment.

    Besides, it’s a school. By its very nature, there are smart people there. I seem to recall some recent laments by Santorum about smart people not being attracted to the GOP. If that is indeed the case, this is a lot like hunting in a baited field. Anti-competitive practices are inherently unfair in politics as well as business.

  9. Once upon a time there will … there will:

    “There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

    (Sickology vs. Penology). Sometimes one simply has to become a professor and sometimes not. ;)

  10. I approve and support all that has been said. :-)

    As to living wage, I trust she had other employment as this was hopefully only part time. They dressed her and themselves up by calling her professor.

    Never a political word was spoken in my college years. Maybe all tech schools are the same. Vote? What’s that. But that was years ago. Before tha age of majority became 18.

  11. Community colleges have different hiring standards. It’s not unusual to have “professors” with minimal higher education, e.g. a teacher of a programming language who spent some years as a programmer, probably had a bachelor’s degree but not in programming and didn’t know why anyone would use bit level instructions; a teacher of blueprint reading and autocad who spent some years as a subcontractor who really didn’t teach autocad. He gave assignments in the instruction book and access to the program. We were left to figure it out ourselves. Examples are from Community Colleges in different states.

  12. lottakatz 1, September 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Dredd, yea, I saw that. There is no depth the Republicans in Congress will not plumb.
    Tru dat …

  13. Ah, Brevard County! It was our home while we lived in Florida. When I refer to Florida as a toilet with palm trees I think of Brevard as the P-trap at the bottom of the bowl.

    If ignorance is bliss Brevard, not Orland, is the happiest place on earth. 2nd worst paid teachers in the country (good people tend to not stay or to get burned out), lowest graduation rate in the country, lowest rate of HS grads going on to college, 50% of all grads (public and private) need remedial English and math during their Freshman year at college.

    My guess is she had to read the pledge to them, explain the big words and what an election is.

  14. More need to be elicited ….. So what if she’s pushing her agenda…. Read the comments here….. Is or are the elected officials exempt from equal enforcement of the laws…..

  15. I’d heard about this a couple days ago (the righties spread this stuff fast)
    So I checked Gottavote.org then, and again just now. There wasn’t then and there isn’t now any form of pledge I could see. Maybe it’s on the secret page only the closest members may see/
    Whether she passed around a pledge is one thing, but it’s iffy to me when an Obama organization is tossed in the mix. And if that part is bogus, I question the rest of the accusation.
    It’s still (somewhat) innocent until PROVEN guilty.

  16. Lotta K.,

    To what depth? What equipment will they need to survive those depths?

    At first, I saw it as a race to the bottom. But then understanding all is so well coordinated, that instead it will be the first sulky race with all entries crossing the finish line, neck and neck.

    This coordination is just their strength. There is but one GOP gospel, which is added to each week. Is there a central ideologue?

  17. We dogs in our dogpack vote early and often. Since some of us assist blind guys at the polls we are prone to voting often. Obama wil win because the old farts are tired of hearing the racial rant that he is just an N guy. Its getting old you farts from the RepubliCon Party. Try something else. For the readers out there that do not know the history of the RepubliCon Party as regards to their solid South and now Solid Old Fart efforts, please Google: Lee Atwater and N——, N—–, N—–.

  18. HumpinDog here. Gotta relate this one:

    Romney, bombney bo bomney
    Nanna nanna fo fomby’
    Mitt Mitt bo bit
    nanna nanna fo shit
    if the first two letters are ever the same,
    ya drop both and say the name like
    Willard, Willard, fo bo billard,
    thats the only name that seems so
    Gypsie, bibsie, bo bigsie…
    –Name Game, 1980s from Saturday Night Live.

  19. Ridiculous. But it is Florida, Jake.~lottakatz
    there is no doubt in my mind or by my experience that Florida is a much poisoned well that is rife with crime, corruption, exploitation, cognitive dissonance, and is lacking in infrastructure, and many othr elements that make other American cities and towns more livable, safer, cleaner and more pleasant…. so what policies and such exist in Florida to make it such a strange and anti-thetic place? Because the other thing that I have found here is an awful lot of really decent people, beautiful land, once beautiful beaches that could actually be enjoyed, (I say once because they are in danger of destruction by pollution and such…). And Brevard is one of my favorite places….I go there when I can, I’d hate to see it ‘modernized’ as it is home to Merrit Isl. and the Space ctr. and many people who work hard to bring us food and so much more…..So …..what?

    People will become strange when they are treated strangely. And misogyny….., there is that here I think, and Rush Limbaugh men-talities….what attracts them here?

    [and have you ever noticed that the men who hate women the most are the ones that need them the most?????]

    -and the back room politics, the ‘sheeple’ (which is a disdainment laid on the citizens by many in government, who cannot see the water that floats their boat….)…..
    What else?


    …perhaps the ongoing disenfranchisements of people by those in (what would be the correct word….????)…’positions’ of power…..

    well, is that corruption then?

    it happens every day here…and in every way here….and the septic tank that Florida is becoming is being created by those who are not Floridians….whose vested interests began and exist in other places…

    spare me the “it must be Florida” crap and take the time to look behind the curtain.
    people are hurting here…….

  20. Woosty,

    Thanks, no matter how corrupt a people can become (in Florida), it is still the leaders who show the way and crave submission. Either tbat or starve.

    Did any note the finishing bit at Jon Stewart’s in Rough Cut, where a plutocrat said: ” I was on food stamps and Medicaid once, and I don’t think the government helped me at all.” My paraphrase.
    So with leaders like that how can any crook be wrong, even in Florica.

    This whole hate a state crap is just that. People start out some white boards without any markings. So where does the crap disfiguring the white come from? It ain’t self-generated.

  21. Woosty: “spare me the “it must be Florida” crap and take the time to look behind the curtain.
    people are hurting here…….”
    People are hurting a lot of places and like Florida they are voting against their own best interests and the interests of the country. Florida has been the destination of many special interest groups/population segments for 50 years and whatever vestigial native population may be left they have been overshadowed long ago by those interests. It is what it is now and is not alone in transforming itself through encouraging migration or being subject to it.

    I make fun of Florida and a host of other states and would make fun of my own if it was in the news as much (Ever hear of Todd Aikin?) and the fact that people are hurting there in Florida as well as the entire southern tier of states is not lost in me. It is sad, tragic in fact. I can’t change that because most of the problems originate or are maintained by the state legislatures.

    There are good and decent people in Florida and beautiful places and all those things that make it sad and tragic that Florida is a punchline. The same could be said for any state and the only difference is degree. I know that firsthand. But if it is offensive that your state is a punchline, and I mean this with no rancor or personal desire to offend, then stop being a punchline.

    I visited Florida a couple of times in 2 week blocks, liked it enough to try to get a transfer there. There were a few states I liked well enough to try to get transferred to but here I am, with Todd Aiken.

  22. actually I’m a Bostonian.
    I have relatives from Missouri but I have never been.
    Currently I live in Florida.
    I am just OD’ing on the toxic political rhetoric these days and it does bother me that the really ugly behaviors of those in ‘power’ are just shunted off on those who have no say at all but are left to pay the tab. I don’t believe most Floridians are dumb or voting against their own interests. I think the misinformation machine is rabid and most people are working too hard to be able to keep up with it. I do believe there is a level of exploitation going on in this Country that has left local people everywhere out of the equation. If you read what I said about disenfranchisement you know where I am coming from. Another thread is topic’d around apathy. The only apathy I am seeing is in the humanity of the so-called Governing bodies and the politicians…..whose apathy is clearly demonstrated (with a few amazingly stellar exceptions) in their deafness toward any whose speak out against their agenda or the agenda of their Corporate projects.

    I am getting sensitized to just shuck it off to ‘that stupid old Fluriduh’….or whichever state is lined up for the kick…

  23. The Hatch Act. One guy was displaying campaign signs in his cubicle. I said you can’t do that, and he said the campaign’s already over.

  24. Woosty, I actually know what you are talking about and have similar feelings about the situation. I don’t think we need to look any farther than talk radio and the effort to disenfranchise millions of people from their right to vote (why are statehouses not burning, torched by outraged voters?) to see that the citizen is just considered an unfortunately nuisance to be dealt with in the rituals of power. I have people that are the people we are talking about- that I make fun of- I can’t even fix them or help them. I’m also sickened by the situation, it’s why I don’t even bother to post to some threads, it just makes me too unhappy and pi**ed off to form a response.

    People deserve better.

  25. (why are statehouses not burning, torched by outraged voters?)
    because most people are a lot more civilized than those in Government bother to believe.

  26. for me it’s the electoral college system that encourages gaming the process. what matters is a few thousand people in a few swing states. if you live in a state that will go overwhelmingly to one candidate or the other your vote really does not matter.

    and i’m gettin d@mn tired of robo calls from mike huckabee.

  27. LottaKatz and Woosty the Cat,

    Let me congratulate you. Not for following my intentions, for I am not a leader. But I did call for less combat and more discussion just the other day in a comment.

    You two exemplify superbly what I hope we see more of here.

    Expresssing onesself with heat is not bad, in these times. But it should be met with kind understanding, not a put-down.

    Then in peaceful terms which give rise to reflection rather than the mental taking up of arms, should the discussion proceed. Resulting in deeper wider understandig in the debaters and the viewers.

  28. Anyone who votes for OBAMA is stupid and a professor doing it proves why our education system is all fouled up and why our students can’t compete with the world.

  29. Jim,
    I have to agree that our school system is messed up because you are a good example of it’s failures. You don’t know the difference between logical debate and name calling.

  30. i believe that this professor tried forcing her students to sign the pledge. i have had professors that would fail a student for being conservative. When i went to Bergen Community College in NJ i had a professor in american writing who would call any republican a “criminal” or “murderer” when i said that this was an american writing class not political science and if she wanted to discuss politics we could do so during our break, she just said “you must be a republican”. i said yes i am.

    from that point on i failed every test, paper, project and she then said i was going to fail because i was absent too often. (i had perfect attendance)

    i wound up getting a “d” only because the next few papers i wrote were purposely the most stupid and moronic works i could come up with. she loved them. if roberta moore is teaching your kid, pull them out now.

  31. Mike Spindell 1, September 22, 2012 at 12:24 am

    I have to agree that our school system is messed up because you are a good example of it’s failures. You don’t know the difference between logical debate and name calling.
    I know how to call names. I only do it if it’s necessary. What do you refer to as logical debate?

  32. I thought I saw some familiar names earlier…. But i was in delete mode and deleted one or two from an Anon Nurse….. Nothing written resembled her style….. Hmmmm….. What exactly is the blog policy when someone’s non de plume is used……

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