Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oh Dear, Student Sues LA Community College

Anybody see the story which seems to have started at the O'Reilly Factor and made its way around any number of conservative advocacy blogs about the student who alleges he was discriminated against for his Christian beliefs? The student is suing his professor and a long list of administrators at Los Angeles Community College. I am reluctant to post many details since the story that is being endlessly repeated is based mostly on the student's versions of events and a handwritten document and one letter from the school's Dean. Here is the LA Times version of the story.

The lawyers (discussed below) of the student have placed their suit and the supporting documents online at their site here:


It is a large download but quite a read.

His lawyers are the Alliance Defense Fund which is an organization started by James Dobson of Focus on the Family fame. This is from their web site:

The Alliance Defense Fund is the only legal ministry in the United States that provides regular, extensive, and top-level training through an accredited academy program to help practicing attorneys successfully defend and reclaim religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and marriage and the family.

If you make your way through the documents, you will notice they have sued everyone at the College even though the College was working its way through an investigation and disciplinary action. We still don't have the professor's testimony. I know our speech teachers deal with issues of students trying to give persuasive speeches for informative ones all the time. More than that I won't comment on without the full story.

I remember many years ago when I was teaching an upper level course on the Peoples of Africa. I had assigned a reaction paper on Conversations with Ogotemmeli. One of the students wrote a paper that argued that the piece was proof that "we all believe in the same God, praise Jesus". That is a quote. I crossed out the latter phrase and gave the student a "D" for not really addressing the assignment. He filed a grade appeal against me. Later, I got a note from the committee (yes, there was a faculty review committee--with no anthropologist on it) saying that while they had upheld my grade they thought my comments were a bit "harsh". I think I forced 6-7 colleagues to read those comments, I was so disturbed. Scary. Very scary.


Anonymous said...

Thankfully most of the students I have in my course on Christianity don't care--last semester I told some students in one of my classes that many scholars think the New Testament is 80% fiction, and they didn't flinch or blink an eye. They were amazingly uninvested. If I had a spy student from Focus on the Family in my class I don't know what I'd do.

Pamthropologist said...

I do know what you mean, I think the majority of mine believe in rogue unicorns, in the words of Flight of the Conchords, rather than Bible Belt Christianity. Everything is fiction to them. (Maybe I am not being fair, I am a bit tired.)

Thanks for the comment. I enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

This may help some teachers.

Depending on the problem and circumstance, I respond to students giving me faith-based responses with the comment that "Faith and belief are by definition not science since they are based on more than mere observation. This course requires that you master scientific arguments. Since you have given me no scientific arguments, I have nothing here to grade. I cannot grade you on your religious beliefs."

Anonymous said...

From reading the LA Times story, it would seem that the problem began with Lopez harassing two of his fellow students. Of course all we have here is "He said...."

Pamthropologist said...

A paucity of evidence and a whole lotta belief is never a comfortable combination, unless everyone is sharing the same belief and then...who notices the paucity of evidenc?

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