Sunday, December 08, 2002

Serve and volley on StarTribune letters

Someone beat Prof. Uradnik to the STrib -- there are two letters in the Sunday paper. The second is by a professor here who correctly characterizes the editorial as "highly inflammatory and misleading." Good for you, David!

The first is by the director of the Univ. of Minnesota's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Stephen Feinstein. He isn't a disinterested observer, but already quoted in the Washington Post report mentioned here earlier, and quoted as saying that sending a Jewish student to SCSU is "like sending a black kid to Ku Klux Klan University." How seriously should we take his lament for how we've conjured up "negative images of Minnesota from the 1940s, when anti-Semitism was considered rampant here"?

He takes most of his letter to defend one of the plaintiffs, Laurinda Stryker. She is stated to be an excellent teacher with high student ratings. There are many ways to get these ratings however -- grade inflation is one. Her sudden departure for a semester due to illness during the height of the controversy preceded the supposed interference in the grading of Robbi Hoy, a student who received a separate settlement in this case. She is reported in the campus report as having an 'A' converted to an incomplete. We do not know if Hoy ever turned in all work.

No matter, she got $7500 and a letter of apology -- I guess for putting her through the hassle of losing her instructor.

If Stryker is so wonderful an instructor, couldn't she have done something for Hoy? Or was Hoy, who was supportive of Stryker's conflict with the administration, seeking to create a conflict?

We'll never know, we'll just have to take $7500 out of the equipment budget to pay for the cowardice of the attorney general's office to fight these claims.

One more point from the Feinstein letter -- he mentions that "the "charges" against her clearly seem a form of retaliation." What charges? From the Washington Post, April 1, 2001 (and have you wondered why the WaPo has run three articles on this case in lil' ol' St. Cloud? Try "good PR".)

Stryker, who is not Jewish but who said she plans to convert to Judaism, {she hasn't yet, according to Feinstein's letter today -- kb} noted that officials are urging she not be retained on the faculty and are investigating her over what she called a bogus charge of academic fraud. She said that when she applied to be put on the tenure track two years ago, she told officials she had a scholarly article coming out in an academic journal. But, she said, she was unable to finish the piece because her mother became seriously ill.
Doesn't this cause anyone to wonder what happened to the academic fraud case? Any academic has had a manuscript receive a "revise and resubmit" decision from a journal; we don't list them as "coming out" on our resumes unless they have been revised, resubmitted and accepted for publication.

Should the University overlook that type of error? Remember that history teaching posts are scarce and competition is fierce. CVs will fly in fast and furious, and the committee will be able to be choosy. Publications will likely be one of the criteria. Would Stryker have been a candidate for the job if she had written on her resume "article under revision if I can get around to it?"

Feinstein closes his letter with "Stryker, a non-Jew of German heritage, was probably the perfect person to teach "History of the Holocaust" at St. Cloud State." What the hell does that mean? There are many German-Americans in the St. Cloud area -- who's stereotyping now? Weird.