Phillip Adamo, Professor of History and Medieval Studies
To the Augsburg community:
“Our long national nightmare is over.” The Provost has resolved Augsburg’s “N-word controversy.”
I chose Gerald Ford’s famous line, above, without hyperbole. The story of the N-word at Augsburg has indeed felt like a nightmare for me and, I imagine, for others in our community.
It garnered national and international attention. A Harvard law professor criticized Augsburg in the “Chronicle of Higher Education.” Stories appeared in Copenhagen’s “Kristelig Dagblad” and in London’s “Spectator.”
Most of the public discourse favored academic freedom. Yet whether or not students feel included and able to participate fully in classroom discussions is also important. Not more important than academic freedom, I think, but this need not be an either/or choice.
Feel free to oppose this idea: to see my pedagogy as wrong, to take sides, to set arguments in stark contrast rather than nuanced tones, to get angry, to protest. The only thing not allowed is to shut down debate.
The Provost has resolved that Augsburg will not pursue my formal dismissal. This makes me happy. She further resolved that I should no longer serve as Honors Director. This makes me unhappy, but I resolve not to appeal her decision or to seek legal remedy against the school I love.
Not everyone will like the Provost’s resolution. Some will think she went too far, others, not far enough. But she has taken action, which is what concerned students insisted that she do.
I harbor no ill will toward any member of Augsburg’s community. I hope we can all continue to discuss concepts like academic freedom. Even when we disagree, I hope such disagreement occurs with mutual love and respect.
This article was originally published in the March 8, 2019 issue.