Former LSU Professor Files Lawsuit Challenging Her Termination For Sexual Harassment

teresabuchanan.facebook-370x242Former LSU Education Professor Teresa Buchanan has filed an interesting federal civil rights lawsuit against the President of Louisiana State University and other school officials, claiming that the school’s sexual harassment rules (modeled on the rules crafted by the Department of Education) violated free speech and due process. I have been a critic of actions taken by the Administration against universities in forcing schools to strip students and faculty of due process rights. We previously discussed the controversy HERE.

Buchanan appears to have favored ““F*** no” to questions in class and using the crude slang term for vagina to suggest someone is a coward. She also made a a joke that the quality of sex gets worse the longer a relationship lasts. Buchanan says that most of the incident occurred during a divorce when she may have been a bit less guarded in her terminology. I think that the five faculty member committee found a compromise in sanctioning the language while also finding that Buchanan’s comments were not “systematically directed at any individual.”

Buchanan was fired for using the occasional profanity and sexual language in her classes. The school decided that such language violated its policy prohibiting “sexual harassment” of students, which defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical behavior of a sexual nature.” That is the standard imposed by the Administration on schools under threat that failure to comply could result in heavy financial penalties and other sanctions.

imagesBuchanan was associate professor teaching in LSU’s teacher certification program. In December 2013, she was told that she could not teach during the Spring 2014 semester because of unspecified allegations that she had made “inappropriate comments” while teaching college-aged teacher education students. Not only was she a tenured professor but, after 20 years of service, she was in the final stages of approval for a promotion to full professor. She was later charged with violating the university’s sexual harassment policy despite the fact that no student accused her of sexual harassment. While some did not like her teaching style, the university decided to label her a sexual harasser and fire her. At the same time, she was denied basic due process rights, including knowing who accused her or who filed the complaint for months after the charges were leveled against her.

Buchanan insists that she sometimes uses salty or profane language as part of her teaching either as humor or as part of role playing exercises in training teachers. She believes that it prepares teachers to interact with “children from family backgrounds that are different from their own.” Regardless of the reason, that allegation falls short of what most people would consider sexual harassment and raises serious questions of academic freedom and free speech. What makes this even more problematic is that in March 2015 the faculty committee unanimously determined that the university should not consider terminating Buchanan as opposed to asked her to modify her conduct. That seems like an obvious solution that respects academic freedom while working with academics who may be offending students with foul language.

fkingaThe LSU administration ignored the faculty recommendation, and in June 2015, LSU’s Board of Supervisors fired Buchanan. Notably, the school said that this was done following “the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’ advisements.” In response, the entire faculty senate on October 6, 2015 adopted a resolution censuring the administration for applying “confusing, dangerous, and untenable standards” to Buchanan and called on LSU to reverse its decision. The Senate specifically censored LSU President F. King Alexander (right), Human Sciences and Education Dean Damon Andrew and former Provost Stuart Bell at its monthly meeting Tuesday afternoon. The resolution (which you can read here) details violations of due process in the case.

The respected American Association of University Professors also issued a position finding that Buchanan’s rights to due process and academic freedom were violated.

The actions of the LSU Administration is a fundamental denial of due process, academic freedom, and due process. It is a disgrace for any educational institution to take such actions against an academic and another example of why Congress must intervene in the actions of the Department of Education. In my view, Alexander is unfit to remain the head of a university after shredding fundamental principles of academic freedom that serve as the foundation for our academic institutions. Of course, Alexander was willing dismiss these core values in this case but there are somethings that he is unwilling to do . . . like stop the construction of an 85 million dollar lazy river when the school is facing crippling budget shortfalls. It says a great deal about his priority as the head of a major educational institution.

33 thoughts on “Former LSU Professor Files Lawsuit Challenging Her Termination For Sexual Harassment”

  1. Gosh give the lady a break. Well give the woman a break I should say, at least.
    oops– am I too guilty of wordcrime?

  2. “Homosexual”, “homophobic”, Islamaphobic”, “Stan Kroenke phobic”. I do not understand the word: “phobic”. Someone please explain.

  3. If that is the standard then i am suing the next person who says ” homosexual” which paints a unwelcome picture of two samesex ppl doing indecent acts. Sure straight ppl do indecent acts but they dont run around waving a flag saying ” look at me and how i get my rocks off” ” think about me and my sex life”…those “harrassers” are protected i guess.

  4. It is time for the Tinker Tour. You folks might recall the U.S. Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Board of Education of Des Moine, IA. The high school students wanted to wear black arm bands to show opposition to the Vietnam War. The school punished. The Supreme Court issued a free speech opinion. Last year at least one of the plaintiffs, Beth Tinker and her spouse did a Tinker Tour to various places in America to promote free speech.

    It is also time for the punks in college to assert their rights. 18, up and out. You can vote at age 18 you nit wits. You nit wits are adults at age 18. Get drunk on the weekends at the barbeque, wear your alligator shoes, and go pee in the front yard of the Dean’s house at LSU. Louisiana is going to have to change the name of that school to LSD.

  5. Universities are too far gone to save.
    They have jettisoned free speech and fair trials in the name of political correctness.
    They are 99.5% authoritarian leftists coercively indoctrinating students in the ways of liberal fascism.

    They cannot be reformed.
    They need to be destroyed.
    Universitas delenda est.

  6. “Mutard” is French for “mustard” in English. I think there needs to be a website named : “American Mutard”. We could post the names and events which no longer pass American Mutard.

    Then we can list the American Retards, such as the LSU people who are defendants in the lawsuit.
    Oh, I was told by BitchinDog that the word “retard” is no longer appropriate. Damn, even the dogpac is getting bitchity.

  7. I do not think that a professor should use the F word, the N word, the D word, or the C word.
    But, “pussy” is not over the top. I guess in Pig Latin it might pass American mutard. ussyPay.

  8. Karen S writes, “Like most people, I agree with the faculty member committee that the appropriate response would have simply been to counsel her against using profanity, which is against a professor code of conduct.”

    Using profanity is against a professor’s code of conduct in light of academic freedom of expression?

  9. I would want some young adults just age 18 on the jury panel. “Are you offended by the word “pussy”? Have you heard the phrase: 18, up and out. So you feel like an adult at age 18? And you will not be offended sitting on this jury if you hear the word “pussy” bandied about?

    Now if the young adult is weeny about it then do not pick him/her. But if the young adult stands up for free speech then the conversation will sway the rest of the jury panel as they sit and listen.

    Should the plaintiff’s lawyer be a man or a woman? If I was counsel (a male dog), I would say that women have equal rights to men. Do any of you folks on this panel disagree? etc.

    I was a lawyer in a prior life. Now I just bark out “dogma”.

  10. Plaintiff could win this case during jury selection. Simply voir dire about “political correctness” et al.
    And, questions like: Anyone here think that college students are too fragile to hear the word “pussy”?

  11. There are going to be people who work for the defendants or who are agents of the defendants who may make statements about the case. The statements may hurt the defendants. A co conspirator statements are admissible if one alleges conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. Section 1985. The plaintiffs did not allege conspiracy here. The following Federal Rule of Evidence 801 d
    provides for the admission of such statements into evidence if offered by the plaintiff to make her case.

    Rule 801. Definitions That Apply to This Article; Exclusions from Hearsay

    The following definitions apply under this article:

    (a) Statement. “Statement” means a person’s oral assertion, written assertion, or nonverbal conduct, if the person intended it as an assertion.

    (b) Declarant. “Declarant” means the person who made the statement.

    (c) Hearsay. “Hearsay” means a statement that:

    (1) the declarant does not make while testifying at the current trial or hearing; and

    (2) a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

    (d) Statements That Are Not Hearsay. A statement that meets the following conditions is not hearsay:

    (1) A Declarant-Witness’s Prior Statement. The declarant testifies and is subject to cross-examination about a prior statement, and the statement:

    (A) is inconsistent with the declarant’s testimony and was given under penalty of perjury at a trial, hearing, or other proceeding or in a deposition;

    (B) is consistent with the declarant’s testimony and is offered:

    (i) to rebut an express or implied charge that the declarant recently fabricated it or acted from a recent improper influence or motive in so testifying; or

    (ii) to rehabilitate the declarant’s credibility as a witness when attacked on another ground; or

    (C) identifies a person as someone the declarant perceived earlier.

    (2) An Opposing Party’s Statement. The statement is offered against an opposing party and:

    (A) was made by the party in an individual or representative capacity;

    (B) is one the party manifested that it adopted or believed to be true;

    (C) was made by a person whom the party authorized to make a statement on the subject;

    (D) was made by the party’s agent or employee on a matter within the scope of that relationship and while it existed; or

    (E) was made by the party’s coconspirator during and in furtherance of the conspiracy.

    The statement must be considered but does not by itself establish the declarant’s authority under (C); the existence or scope of the relationship under (D); or the existence of the conspiracy or participation in it under (E).

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