“Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

1.5 cheers for Northern Kentucky University President James Vortuba


Some people have written to President Vortuba in support of Professor Sally Jacobsen, and he is now waffling on an earlier statement of impending discipline.
...NKU President James Votruba said that he has received e-mails from former students who have told him how important Jacobsen was to them. "She's been very important to many students on this campus," he said. "You don't judge a career on a single incident in the last two weeks. You don't judge Sally or anyone else like that." Votruba also said he understood "we all have moments in our lives that we'd like to replay."
Former students of the person who urged her current students to commit a felony are not the voices to which I would pay first heed. She taught them, and they found her ideas important; so how likely is it they have the balanced grasp of First Amendment principles (vs. Ms Jacobsens's feelings) that would lend any weight to their opinions in this case?

One thing that is in Sally Jacobsen's favor is that she has apologized for inciting her current students to criminal behavior.
...in an e-mail dated April 18, Jacobsen wrote to students whom she invited to join the demonstration. "I want to do everything I can to keep any of you from being specifically named," she said. "And I am very sorry I got you involved in this."

Jacobsen also apologized in a television interview. She expressed her regret for including students and voiced her concern for the welfare of those students.
Being sorry she got others into trouble is an appropriate reaction, even if her own e-mail defeated her intent by identifying her co-conspirators. However, she should also have been apologizing for her totalitarian arrogance. Until she does, no pleas from former students matter much. That there is honor among vandals does little for the rest of us.

Jacobsen has not apologized for her presumption that her own feelings supersede the First Amendment. That she's sorry anybody was/might be caught is irrelevant - she still apparently believes she has the right to stifle the free speech of others, and is dispensing advice on how to get away with it.
Jacobsen also informed the students of the current investigation by the Northern Kentucky University Police Department. "In the meantime, the campus police continue their investigation," she said. "If you have not yet been interrogated, you do not have to talk to them without an attorney. You can make it hard to find you. Again, I am so sorry."
The offense Jacobsen is apologizing for is an abuse of power, she should be apologizing for abuses of principle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These professors need to realize that their words and actions carry a lot of weight with students. I can't believe what NKU is willing to let their professors get away with. Staff is always more concerned about fellow staff members than their real puropose for being their - the students. Does NKU President care more about his professor, or the students she mislead and the other students she harmed by destroying their displaying. My money says . . . he cares more about his staff member. This is why I am no longer at NKU.