On Sunday The Weekly Standard posted an article about some recent events at Duke University’s Divinity School. Paul Griffiths is an English-born possessor, whose specialty is Catholic theology. His resume includes writing ten scholarly books and co-authoring or editing seven others. His resume also includes teaching stints at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The article quotes an email Professor Griffiths received in February:
On behalf of the Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Standing Committee, I strongly urge you to participate in the Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training planned for March 4 and 5. We have secured funding from the Provost to provide this training free to our community and we hope that this will be a first step in a longer process of working to ensure that DDS is an institution that is both equitable and anti-racist in its practices and culture. … We recognize that it is a significant commitment of time; we also believe it will have great dividends for our community. … Duke Divinity School will host a Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training on March 4 and 5, 2017, 8:30—5 pm both days. Participants should plan to attend both full days of training.
Racism is a fierce, ever-present, challenging force, one which has structured the thinking, behavior, and actions of individuals and institutions since the beginning of U.S. history. To understand racism and effectively begin dismantling it requires an equally fierce, consistent, and committed effort” (REI). Phase I provides foundational training in understanding historical and institutional racism. It helps individuals and organizations begin to “proactively understand and address racism, both in their organization and in the community where the organization is working.”
In response to this email, Professor Griffiths sent out the following email:
I exhort you not to attend this training. Don’t lay waste your time by doing so. It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there’ll be bromides, clichés, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty. When (if) it gets beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show. Events of this sort are definitively anti-intellectual. (Re)trainings of intellectuals by bureaucrats and apparatchiks have a long and ignoble history; I hope you’ll keep that history in mind as you think about this instance.
The Professor’s email drew the following response from Elaine Heath, dean of the Duke Divinity School:
It is inappropriate and unprofessional to use mass emails to make disparaging statements–including arguments ad hominem–in order to humiliate or undermine individual colleagues or groups of colleagues with whom we disagree. The use of mass emails to express racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry is offensive and unacceptable, especially in a Christian institution.
Dean Heath requested a meeting with Professor Griffiths, but that meeting was never successfully scheduled. Later Professor Griffiths was banned from faculty meetings (therefore prevented from voting in faculty affairs) and banned from future access to research or travel funds (things included in his letter of appointment).
The harassment of the Professor continues:
In early March, Griffiths hears by telephone from Cynthia Clinton, an officer of the OIE, that a complaint of harassment has been lodged against him by Portier-Young, the gravamen of which is the use of racist and/or sexist speech in such a way as to constitute a hostile workplace. A meeting is scheduled for 3/20/17 between Griffiths and representatives of the OIE to discuss this allegation. Griffiths requests from the OIE a written version of the allegation, together with its evidentiary support, in advance of the scheduled meeting. This request is declined by Clinton on behalf of the OIE, as appears typical for these proceedings. Griffiths then declines the 3/20/17 meeting, and sends a written statement to the OIE … (a copy of that statement is here).
Professor Griffiths has tendered his resignation to Duke. What a shame. According to the Duke University website, the total cost of a student spending a year at Duke is about $70,000. I wonder if parents know that they are sending their children to school that does not allow diversity of opinion.