***This was one of the most popular stories of 2021 at The Iowa Standard. During this time of year, when things slow down, we like revisiting some of the most popular stories from the year.***
Marty Martin, the President of Drake University, sent an email to faculty, staff and students on Wednesday afternoon.
The email comes after a firestorm of criticism erupted as a Drake associate professor of English said on social media that she hates Republicans and all of them must suffer.
On Oct. 26, 2020, Dr. Beth Younger said, “I was just pondering how much hatred I feel towards all the republican (sic) assholes. They need to suffer.”
On Jan. 16, 2021, she added that “men are trash.”
She responded to U.S. Senator Josh Hawley on Jan. 7 with a simple message, “fuck of you piece of shit.”
She called Secretary Mike Pompeo a “fucking moron and a traitor.”
She referenced Melania Trump as a “terrible human.”
Here is the text of Martin’s email:
The Drake University Statement of Principles declares that freedom of thought and freedom of expression are central to our educational mission. We therefore carefully refrain from restricting the exchange of ideas or regulating the content of speech. We recognize that the frank and open discussion of social, cultural, artistic, religious, moral, scientific, and political issues may be disturbing and even hurtful for some individuals, but the principle of free exchange and inquiry takes precedence because of its fundamental role in our educational enterprise. We seek to create through this robust exchange of ideas a community in which shared purpose transcends difference and respect for human dignity transcends conflict.
As presented in our Statement of Principles, an essential feature to achieving a community that transcends difference and respects human dignity is that each of us carry the responsibility to be thoughtful in our speech. That all of us recognize that our words have consequences, and thus, refrain from speaking in demeaning and discriminatory ways. Any individual who uses vicious speech betrays the ideal of mutual respect and goodwill toward all members of our university community.
Our Statement of Principles states that anyone who violates the practices and values expressed therein ‘may expect strong and public censure by the administration, faculty and students.’ Indeed, the statement acknowledges that ‘to rebuke a speaker for … the odious nature of their expression is part of the robust and vigorous public debate that is the central purpose of the university.’ This is not about placing prior restraints on speech, as that would be an anathema to our embrace of freedom of thought and freedom of expression. It is about acknowledging when particular instances of speech undermine our goals of civility and mutual respect.
The social media posts from a Drake faculty member that have been widely shared over the past week are in conflict with values articulated in our Statement of Principles. The odious nature of the expression in those posts can be, and has been, interpreted by some Drake students as expressing hostility towards them because of their political persuasion. That is unacceptable. We expect and indeed promote and celebrate vigorous political debate on our campus and across our community. However, when that debate takes the form of demeaning speech, the speaker must hear and understand that such behavior is not welcome at Drake University.
This institution is not a political entity. It has values as expressed in our Mission and Inspiration Statements and Statement of Principles, among other declarations, and we will defend those values when necessary. But, our core purpose is education not indoctrination. We are here to help our students become disciplined and informed thinkers. We are not here to tell them what they must think or to convert them to any particular political philosophy or party. All of my Drake colleagues must be ever vigilant to avoid alienating any of our students through speech that conveys to them, ‘you are not welcome here.’
We all have a choice to make. Are we going to pour more fuel on our national political fire or are we going to help find a way to become a more unified people? The goal of unity does not mean foregoing accountability for that conduct which has placed us in this perilous space. Indeed, meaningful and lasting unity is not possible without appropriate accountability. Nevertheless, we must find a way to lower the temperature in our body politic and start working together to solve the array of problems that confront us. We all must strive to find a shared purpose that transcends difference and embrace a reverence for human dignity that transcends conflict.