California College Professor Is Hit With Sexual Harassment Charge After Publicly Opposing Gay Studies Program

There is a growing controversy involving a community college professor who claims to have been placed under investigation after he publicly questioned his school’s decision to begin a gay studies program. Professor Jay Rubin wrote a letter to the editor at Alameda Journal that challenged the fiscal basis for the creation of a new program. While he did not sign the letter with his academic title, Rubin was reportedly subjected to a charge of sexual harassment based on that letter by a colleague. I have been pursuing this story for days because of the lack of details and documents in the media. I was able to secure some of this information from Matthew McReynolds, his counsel, with the Pacific Justice Institute.

While the Peralta Community College District has apparently decided that it cannot punish the professor for the letter, I fail to see how this letter would prompt a long investigation. In the letter signed without reference to his academic position, Rubin raises primarily financial questions about the program. The letter is linked below. After questioning the wisdom of creating a new program at this time, Rubin adds an allegation of nepotism:

Even more troubling is the fact that — with all the talented gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender academics in the Bay Area who are currently unemployed — the new LGBT course at College of Alameda will be taught by, his merits aside, Randy Connor, the domestic partner of College of Alameda’s head librarian who helped develop the new program.

Perhaps the next program to be developed at College of Alameda could be “Introduction to Nepotism Studies.” There’s clearly a need for that, too.

I can certainly see why such an attack would be viewed as non-collegial and inimical to faculty relations. However, Rubin has a free speech right to make such public objections, particularly with regard to a public institution. Very few universities have recognized an LGBT degree, including San Diego State, Hobart, and William Smith colleges.

On September 11th, McReynolds wrote the letter below challenging the basis for the sexual harassment charge and the response of the school.

If it is true that the sexual harassment charge is based solely on the letter, it would seem likely it is due to the naming of the head of the course and his relationship with the librarian. Of course, his name would be public anyway, so that leaves the question of the association. Is it sexual harassment to publicly state the association — and thereby the sexual orientation — of these men? In making a nepotism charge, a relationship must be stated. Moreover, a gay relationship is neither illegal nor condemned in the letter. It is treated like any other personal relationship such as a conventional marriage to question whether the course was selected in part due to the association with the librarian. I am not saying that the underlying charge is valid or that this was the best way to pursue such a concern. Indeed, I value civility on faculties very highly and I would not have published such an attack in the newspaper. However, there is no question in my view that this constitutes protected speech and I am concerned with the long investigation. The college clearly must investigate all such charges, but the reported length of the investigation is problematic. This would seem a rather straightforward matter for college officials.

The college rules defines sexual harassment as:

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment or educational environment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or learning, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment.

Here is the full policy: Complaint-and-Investigation-Procedures-for-Employees-and-Students-Unlawful-Discrimination-and-Sexual-Harassment

I am particularly concerned with the allegation that the college barred Rubin from discussing his case in public. This type of gag order is becoming too common in such cases. Rubin should have every right to discuss his case and his treatment. I believe it is not wise to do so in most cases, but I have serious reservations about a college ordering an academic to remain silent if this account is accurate.

What do you think?

Here is the original letter to the editor: My Letter in Alameda Journal

Here is his counsel’s letter: PJI ltr PCCD redacted

37 thoughts on “California College Professor Is Hit With Sexual Harassment Charge After Publicly Opposing Gay Studies Program

  1. nick spinelli,

    “PC is a term used by people who truly value free speech, left/center/right.”

    “SWM, You can always be counted on to be in favor of pc.”

    From those two statements written on the same thread in regards to the same material I can only surmise that nick spinelli was complimenting SwM for always valuing free speech.

  2. SwM,

    Elaine really bugs him and looking over last night’s thread, bkath bugged him … tonight’s your night to shine.

  3. SwM,

    I have the app … I think … it states that you and Slarti play.

    I went to the dentist today for a crown build and my mouth is really sore so I’m going to wait till tomorrow evening to tackle Scrabble.

  4. Nick s, “lottakatz, PC is a term used by people who truly value free speech, left/center/right. PC puts limits on what speech is “acceptable” and creates protected classes of people.”
    *********

    Then they’re/you’re using it wrong.🙂

    Wikipedia being ‘cutting edge’? I don’t know about cutting edge but Wikipedia is a good general encyclopedia and last I read an assessment of its scientific and technical entries by some learned organization, it ranked right up there with textbooks. I spent much of my youth reading encyclopedia entries and I enjoy and respect Wikipedia. I’d point anyone to Wikipedia as a good reference source regarding general knowledge.

  5. LottaKatz:

    I use wikipedia daily; one of the best sites on the web. It somewhat reminds me of how the internet used to be, a non-commercial collection of information where others contributed their part for the common good of all. It is probably better as it is now than then, but it was surely a more pure time. That is until AOL hooked into it and thousands of Lamers invaded. There were many a good people who subscribed to AOL but it seemed at the time that nearly all the internet riff raff germinated from AOL. (just my biased opinion)

    ʕ(ʘ¿ʘ)ʔ

  6. Darren, For a time way, way back, long before Wikipedia and the structured information aggregators/repositories, I subscribed to a site that was titled something like ‘Among All Of Us We Know Everything’ and was a Q&A site that hoped to build an archive of shared knowledge out of real time crowd-sourced problem solving: how does a transmission work; how do I get a stuck jar lid unstuck; what was the big deal with Archduke Ferdinand getting shot; what is a slime-mould? Ask anything and someone would know the answer. How could it be otherwise?

    The answers, from the most simple to the most complex explanations of the underlying principles at work from the potentially millions of people on the Internet could transform the way knowledge was assembled, stored, and disseminated as well as be a force for good and enlightenment in the world. The mission statement said things like that. LOL, the optimisim was staggering and actually, eventually, it did kind of work out that way.

    • Nick,

      When one charcterizes another’s words with a propapagandistic meme they are engaging in ad hominem attack, rather than discussing and/or debating. They are making no logical points, merely name calling. I have gathered that you are more able to discuss, rather then dismiss via characterization, am I mistaken?

  7. Alameda Journal
    2/16/12

    LGBT-studies deal seems a bit too cozy
    Left unmentioned in the Jan. 27 article about College of Alameda’s new “Introduction to LGBT Studies” course is that the program, its merits aside, was pushed through the approval process over the objection of many faculty members.
    In a time of state budget cuts, it seemed irresponsible for interim Vice President of Instruction Rebecca Kenney to push the development of a pet project while other disciplines were seeing sections cut and adjunct instructors were losing their jobs.
    What’s more, though the course will be funded through a partnership with online-education partner Ed2Go, it’s important to note that the new course will not be an online offering. Furthermore, many faculty members were unaware of Ed2Go funding opportunities until after the new LGBT course had been announced.

    Even more troubling is the fact that — with all the talented gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender academics in the Bay Area who are currently unemployed — the new LGBT course at College of Alameda will be taught by, his merits aside, Randy Connor, the domestic partner of College of Alameda’s head librarian who helped develop the new program.
    Perhaps the next program to be developed at College of Alameda could be “Introduction to Nepotism Studies.” There’s clearly a need for that, too.
    Jay Rubin
    San Francisco
    ============
    Twinkies, anyone.

    When I worked at Dean Foods in Albuquerque there was nepotism. Everybody resents it.

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