Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Christian student sues Missouri State

When you come to Missouri State, you might as well leave your religious and personal values at home...unless, of course, you have the same values as your professors.
That is the charge leveled by a Christian student who is suing her professor and the Board of Governors after she was given a lower grade because she refused to sign a letter to the Missouri Legislature supporting the rights of gays to adopt and have foster children.
The lawsuit was filed this week in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
"Although Miss Brooker entered MSU expecting that college would provide her with the opportunity to engage in rigorous academic discourse and pursue greater understanding of life's deepest questions, what she found was much different," the lawsuit said. "Instead of encouraging debate and discourse, defendants, by policy and practice, stifled and silenced Ms. Brooker's speech and exercise of her religious beliefs because they fell outside the orthodoxy of the School of Social Work and MSU."
Ms. Brooker claims the professor, Frank G. Kauffman, "engaged in indoctrination, not education," and after she stood up to him, he and university officials "trumped up grievance charges in retaliation to her protected speech, failed to give her adequate notice of the charges, forced her to speak in favor of matters that are vile to her religious beliefs, and treated her differently than similarly-situated students."
Ms. Brooker claims Kauffman departed from the curriculum on a regular basis to engage in "leftist diatribes denigrating President Bush and the federal government." He told the students he was a liberal "made statements that social work is a 'liberal' profession." She questioned some of Kauffman's statements in class and was rewarded with a C grade, despite her accomplishments in class, the lawsuit said. "When Ms. Brooker approached Kauffman about the grade, he claimed she received fewer points on participation, which led to her C grade, because she was tardy and exhibited unprofessional behavior in class."
After Ms. Brooker appealed the grade to Kauffman's department head, her grade was increased to a B, though it took more than a year for the change to be made. After that course, Ms. Brooker had to take another required course taught by Kauffman.
As part of the class, the lawsuit said, Kauffman required the students to "engage in a semester-long social work advocacy project." Ms. Brooker initially joined a group doing its project on the homeless, but plans changed after Kaufman brought a guest speaker from a gay organization to class.
"After the speaker, Kauffman suggested that instead of allowing each class group to choose their own project on social work advocacy, the whole class should work on a project advocating homosexual foster homes and adoption."
Kauffman told the students they would learn about homosexual foster homes and adoption, "attend a town hall meeting discussing the issue, write a reaction paper, and then, as a class, write a letter advocating in favor of homosexual adoption to the state of Missouri legislature. Kauffman stated the letter would be sent on MSU letterhead and signed by each student."
Two students, including Ms. Brooker, said they could not sign such a letter because "of her Christian beliefs," according to the lawsuit. Ms. Brooker said she was willing to do the research and attend the town meeting. "She attempted to promote fostering and adopting children generally, without promoting homosexual foster homes and adoption." Ms. Brooker and the other student tried to schedule a meeting with Kauffman to discuss the assignment, but "Kauffman refused to meet with them after class, stating that they would discuss the issue in class. The students said they did not want to discuss the issue in class.
"Several weeks later, Kauffman entered the room and announced that all previous work on the syllabus was being thrown out. He issued an addendum to the syllabus, and he stated that each student had to complete an individual advocacy project and stop work on the group homosexual foster home and adoption advocacy project. One option was for the students to continue working individually on the homosexual foster home an adoption project."
The lawsuit indicates Kauffman thought some students had gone behind his back to sabotage the homosexual advocacy project. "Kauffman angrily left the classroom and did not hold class that day."
Ms. Brooker did her project on Missouri's Head Start program. A month later, on the Friday before finals, Ms. Brooker was told by phone she had "violated the School of Social Work's Standards of Essential Functioning in Social Work Education."
When the meeting was held, Ms. Brooker's parents were not allowed to attend, she was not allowed to tape record it, and she was not allowed to have a non-faculty advocate speak on her behalf. At the meeting on Dec. 16, 2005, she was told the violations were based on three issues: her grade appeals, tardiness, and her involvement in Kauffman's class. During the two and a half hour meeting, most of the talk centered around her "discriminatory conduct" according to the lawsuit.
Kauffman said Ms. Brooker 'resisted his instruction." The committee asked her "a series of personally invasive questions criticizing her Christian beliefs, including 'Do you think gays and lesbians are sinners." Committee members told her that her "Christian beliefs conflicted with the National Association of Social Worker Code of Ethics."
Ms. Brooker said the actions of the faculty committee and Kauffman affected her grades, keeping her from graduating with honors and kept her from being admitted into a master's degree program and violated her First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and free exercise of religion. She is asking for damages, and for the court to keep the university officials from retaliating against her.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics can be found at

http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp

I can see several things there which could pose a potential conflict or problem for someone like Ms. Brooker. Perhaps she would be better suited in another profession.

Anonymous said...

I work around quite a few socila workers and have not found one yet that was not a moron, I lknow that is harsh, but it is true. They acree with everyone, never take a stand and generally try and make everyone feel okay, that is insane. You have to take a stand on something someime or your just a doormat.
Anyway, I have not ever had need to use the services of one and am glad for that.
Good luck on her case, she has one of the best attorneys around.

Unknown said...

This is a very interesting story. Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

Screw her. Her discriminatory philosophies can't be traced back to religion and shrugged off.

Much like those in the Middle East need to learn tolerance for Christians, we need to be tolerant of others. If she can't be tolerant, she can pay the price. Go Missouri State!

Anonymous said...

Having been a SMSU, MSU student from 1988-1994,I'd like to say that they do indeed have such professors at that college. I had an African American Religion 100 professor who only gave out extra credit during Feb., black history month, if you went to a black history month function,and often his lectures were more religious and liberal in nature than I could hardly stand. He was also a Methodist preacher there in Springfield. Since I did not share many of his views on HIS religion, the class was not a good investment for me although it was a required class.(And by the way, I'm married to a South American, my brother in law is African American, and I'm Catholic, so I was no way predjudiced, just tired of the "sermons" I got in my public education at a State College.)

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight, you were in a "African American Religion 100" class and you found it to be too religious and liberal. First off, are you insane? Secondly, having friends and family who are of a diverse crop isn'to some sort of forcefield to bigotry. What kind of degree were you seeking that made "African American Religion 100" a required class?

Anonymous said...

Let's take a look at this and the comments received so far. From the charges, it appears that some very highly paid teachers are allowed to promote their personal values in the classroom. Classes which the students pay a lot of money to attend. Some of this is to be expected, but this appears to cross the line from what I have read here. To suggest that Ms. Booker find another profession, deters from the real issue. For "tired of bogotry" this is a classic example of the type of response we should expect from the presumably ultra-liberal view they have. Where does being tolerant of teahing something so far left of our nations roots become necessary. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but has anyone noticed an increase in the school violence, and the lack of respect that our youth have since we started promoting "tolerance". Thanks to Ms. Booker for taking a stand to protect the right to gain an education without being forced to participate in the promotion of views, some which are contributing to the decline of a moral society. By the way, I'm not ultra-religious, just feel that we have lost focus on what is right and wrong.

MissouriMan said...

Missouri State University is a hotbed of liberal prejudice. As a former student and a recent visitor to the university, I can tell you the teachers encourage student to mistreat anyone from the area.

I was laughed at and abused by Missouri State faculty because I came from the southwest Missouri area.

I even had a teacher imply that my family and neighbors were into incest-- all hillbillies are into incest.

For any Christian reading this you have no idea how much hatred is aimed at the people from the area.

I feel the new President of the university has all ready shown that he will continue fostering liberal bias and prejudice.

At best he and his Missouri State faculty are guilty of being thought police, at worse they are nothing but Nazis and had they been in Germany they would have been goose stepping over the graves of anyone who did not agree with them.

Folks from southwest Missouri you need to check it out. The university is truly doing horrible things to the students from the area, and to Christians. Someone needs to look into this.

In universities across the land Christians are abuse and maligned. Other religions are more protected, but Christians are fair game. The hatred spread by the administration and faculty is ovrewhelming.

I have heard rumors of one particular department's faculty getting up en masse in protest and leaving, when a religous song was being played.

IN encourage Missouri residents, be they Christian, jewish, or athiest, to stop this policy of abuse.

Anonymous said...

American christians have no idea what real abuse or persecution feels like and to pretend that you do makes a mockery of those who have been abused and persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Here, here. American Christians have a martyr complex and can't wait to have their beliefs "trampled" on by someone who challenges the good word. It makes them feel Christlike.

Anonymous said...

My hat is off to Ms. Brooker. It appears she tried to work wih the teacher and the assignment. The professor is unprofessional who must walk out, redo assignments to force students to agree with perosonal views, etc. When a teacher cannot convince students of a view with good teaching and exposure, he needs to let it go. He also should respect students views as he wants his respected! The classroom is not the place for coercing and trampling. I have been in those classes, too. Anonymous also