NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A conservative Vanderbilt professor isn’t cowering while a progressive lynch mob targets her.
She’s fighting back.
Students have begun circulating a petition calling for the suspension of Dr. Carol Swain, a professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University.
Her offense? Posting materials of interest to “Christian conservatives” on the Internet.
A petition created by students claims Swain has engaged in “unprofessional intimidation on social media, discriminatory practices in the classroom, and unclear representation as a Public Figure with invocations of the Vanderbilt name on her Facebook page.”
Students also accuse her of “expressing hatred towards minorities.”
The petition claims:
While Swain first and foremost has a right to her personal beliefs and the right to freedom of speech within and outside of the classroom, it recently came to the attention of the Vanderbilt community that Carol Swain has let her hate-filled prejudices negatively impact her work, our student body, and Vanderbilt’s reputation.
One “grievance,” according to the petition, is that “Professor Carol Swain has failed to clearly separate her role on her Facebook page as a “Public Figure” from the Vanderbilt name, creating a situation in which the public may misconstrue her as speaking on behalf of the University. We want to make it clear that Carol Swain in no way represents our alma mater, regardless of the fact that she teaches here.”
The mob wants Swain suspended so that administrators can confer with the ACLU and “create and mandate a diversity training program for all Vanderbilt faculty – including Professor Carol Swain – to increase their cultural awareness, foster inclusion of various identity groups, prevent discrimination in the classroom, and to protect the University against inadvertent civil rights violations .”
“We are calling on the administration to please hear our voices and take action before Carol Swain causes more harm to herself, our community, and Vanderbilt’s reputation,” the accusations conclude.
Swain, meanwhile, is fighting back.
“I think they’re sad and pathetic, in the sense that they’re college students and they should be open to hearing more than one viewpoint,” Swain tells ABC 2.
She admits posting articles “of interest to Christian conservatives” and connected the actions of the students to the teachings of Saul Alinsky:
"Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It"–Saul Alinsky. Folks, I am the target. I must be living right!
— Dr. Carol M. Swain (@carolmswain) November 12, 2015
Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos released a statement on the student petition — which now has nearly 1,500 signatures — and appeared to distance himself from Swain:
I have heard and appreciate the serious concerns of our many students and alumni who have signed an online petition calling for the suspension of Carol Swain, professor of political science and professor of law. Professor Swain’s opinions are her own.
They do not reflect the opinions of the university in any way. They are not my opinions, the opinions of the provost, or the opinions of university leadership.
According to Zeppos, “Vanderbilt also has a deep and longstanding commitment to freedom of speech and academic freedom, which are the foundations of our university’s scholarly activities.
“Such freedoms necessarily allow for the expression of unpopular and offensive views. However, speech whose sole purpose or effect is to discriminate, stigmatize, retaliate, offend, foment hatred or violence, or cause harm has no place in this university.”
At this point, it’s unclear what action they will take to placate the baying mob calling for Swain’s ouster.