Monday, November 27, 2006

Leprechaun due process 

This story is a little weird. A student at an art institute gets into a conversation during a class with another student; the class is wrapping up and students are killing time until the rest of the class is done and they are dismissed. One is said to have stated her belief in energy layers and astral beings. The second, who says he is atheist, asks if the first student believes in leprechauns too. She does. The second student, in his own words, says he tried "to convince her not to insist that [her views] were scientifically proven." She files a complaint to the teacher.

That evening, the second student is called before two deans and an associate dean and suspended until there is a hearing. The student then finds an eyewitness and tries to bring the witness to the associate dean, but that is found to be rude and belligerent behavior, according to the suspended student. Subsequently, the dean of students expels this young man; the student feels the dean focused more on his attempt to bring forward an eyewitness than the original case, and starts to seek legal advice on whether he can claim he's been discriminated against because he's an atheist. He says the dean told him atheists were not a protected class.

When I read stories like this, my temptation is to go to the university's catalog and figure out the policy and the process for complaints. Here's theirs. Start at page 79. On the next page we find:
Verbal abuse, insulting comments and gestures, and other harassing conduct are also forbidden under this policy when directed at an individual because of his or her race, color, sex, sexual orientation, familial status, age, religion, ethnic origin, or disability. It is the responsibility of each employee and each student to conduct himself or herself in a professional manner at all times and to refrain from such harassment.
So is belief in astral planes and leprechauns protected under this policy? Or did the student violate something else? Or, as the article indicated, was this a problem student who they were seeking a way to get rid of? Given they have registered this project, should this be permitted at a private educational institution?

I bet he doesn't butt into conversations again any time soon.