UPDATE: Another university cut ties with conservative professor after student backlash
Simmons University reportedly terminated a professor's contract after students learned of his conservative opinions.
Professor David Kane was removed from Harvard University for a similiar controversy.
Simmons University (SU) reportedly refused to renew professor David Kane's contract after students found an old blog in which Kane argued for conservative opinions.
The controversy began in 2020 when Harvard students, where Kane formerly taught, complained about the content of the blog, which included subjects including free speech and affirmative action. While it was unclear whether Kane authored the posts, his contract was not renewed.
Kane began teaching at SU during the fall 2022 semester.
SU students, however, demanded Kane be fired after learning of his Harvard history. SU opened a new section of Kane’s introductory statistics course and offered students the chance to transfer.
Kane’s course was canceled after the number of students fell below minimum enrollment, and the Boston, Massachusetts school announced it would not renew his contract.
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SU President Lynn Perry Wooten responded to a related sit-in opposing Kane and expressed support for the students’ “commitment to standing up for equity and social justice.”
“Simmons respects the right of student free expression, and we believe that sit-ins, protests and peaceful demonstrations are important forms of that expression,” Wooten said. “Many students have understandably expressed concerns about past statements reportedly made by Prof. Kane, which run counter to the Simmons mission of fostering a respectful and welcoming environment.”
Kane was informed he would not be permitted to contact students as a faculty member and could not use his office for meetings, an email from Interim Dean Sandra Erdelez, obtained by Campus Reform revealed.
“When we canceled your section of statistics it ended your relationship with Simmons as an adjunct faculty member,” Erdelez wrote to Kane. “As I shared with you previously, since you are no longer a Simmons faculty member any contacts that you have with students are in your personal capacity.”
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The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) came to Kane’s defense and sent a letter to Wooten demanding his reinstatement. FIRE also alleged the university violated its academic freedom and free expression policies.
Sabrina Conza, FIRE Program Officer, told Campus Reform that “Simmons University violated its commitment to academic freedom and free expression by canceling Professor Kane's class and non-renewing him.”
“The university found a roundabout way to punish Professor Kane for his speech, but it still punished him,” she said. “If Simmons' commitments are to mean anything, it must reinstate Professor Kane and allow faculty to exercise their expressive rights.”
Campus Reform contacted Simmons University, Wooten, and Erdelez for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.