Threats to Tolerance

Orchestrated attacks on a TTU professor who dared to communicate post-election concerns over the future of public higher education and the well-being of LBGT students at TTU are an increasing sign that calls for tolerance will not be tolerated even by elements within TTU itself. The professor under attack, Dr. Julia Gruber, teaches German and is President of the TTU chapter of the AAUP. The first reaction came from a TTU professor of Decision Science, who sent Dr. Gruber a series of increasingly strident and aggressive emails. This professor devoted special attention to deriding the post-election concerns voiced by TTU’s LBGT students–who Dr. Gruber advises and with whom the professor had not spoken–by calling them “snowflakes”. The same professor’s personal website became a springboard for misdirected and vile statements and threats directed against Dr. Gruber who was characterized, with no evidence whatsoever, as an indoctrinating ‘Liberal’ unfit to teach. Ironically, these attacks came the same month as Dr. Gruber received the TTU Ambassador award for excellence in teaching. The matter escalated when the communication sent by Dr. Gruber was passed along—most likely by a TTU faculty person—to a local website—the Daily Roll Call–where it went viral. The website is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a source dedicated to Islamophobic hate speech: Interestingly, the first post to this story on this website was made by another TTU Decision Science professor and the wife of the above noted professor. She offered the following commentary: “My husband and I are both professors at TTU and we both responded sternly to Dr. Gruber and ask [sic] us [sic] to remove is [sic] from her mailing list. Trust me we are not all liberal professors …” Should we presume from these comments that both professors, as proud Conservatives, are busy indoctrinating their students with their conservative ideology? Should we presume without further evidence that both are avid fans of the religious and racial bigotry represented by the Daily Roll Call? Should we presume that both professors were instrumental in communicating all this to the Daily Roll Call? Should we presume that the dramatic and fiscally burdensome decline in TTU’s foreign student enrollment largely from Muslim countries is somehow connected to TTU professors who share the Islamophobic bigotry on display at the Daily Roll Call website? Regarding these questions, the TTU chapter of the AAUP believes that we should not rush to hasty conclusions and instead we should extend forbearance unless proven otherwise; the same kind of forbearance that was not extended to Dr. Gruber and against whom outrageous charges and threats have been made.

–Jon Jonakin