Sharon Sweet, the Brevard Community College (Florida) math professor who forced her students to sign a pledge promising to vote for President Barack Obama and “Democrats up and down the ticket,” may be losing her job.
After a three-month investigation, BCC President Jim Richey announced that he will recommend to the school’s Board of Trustees that she be fired. Dr. Richey explained in a written statement that BCC policy prohibits electioneering during regular work hours or on BCC property. Sweet’s actions also allegedly created a hostile academic environment, according to Dr. Richey’s announcement, as well as unfairly imposing her personal political beliefs on the students.
The school interviewed many of her students in her five classes who felt intimidated into signing the pledge cards because otherwise they felt their grade would suffer. Sweet also allegedly misrepresented the purpose of the pledge cards in that she alternately claimed that she was registering voters, that the pledge cards were non-partisan in nature, or that she conducting a statistical analysis using the pledge cards.
Sweet still has a sweet deal going because she is continuing to collect paycheck without doing any work. As of result of tenure protection, Sweet has been serving a paid suspension. There are several administrative steps yet to occur — including a hearing before the Board — before any just-cause termination becomes final.
It would be one thing perhaps if she was teaching political science but why in the world would a math professor attempt to politicize her classroom in the first place? Evidently they weren’t running Electoral College calculations either.
It is no secret, however, that academia is overwhelmingly left-liberal, and gave massive support to Obama in various ways, including in the form of campaign donations. Moreover, it is often very difficult for those qualified scholars who are acknowledged conservatives or libertarians to obtain tenure or even get hired in the first place. Despite notions of academic freedom, students who don’t go along with the dominant ideology on campus also often face challenges.
Do you think termination is the appropriate disciplinary action in this case?