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ECSU Professor’s Remarks Prompts Response From Lawmakers

by Christine Stuart | Apr 22, 2014 3:57pm
(23) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education, State Capitol, Windham

Christine Stuart photo

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero reads the remarks of the ECSU professor

Eastern Connecticut State University Professor Brent Terry’s remarks during a creative writing class won bipartisan disapproval Tuesday from the state House of Representatives.

According to little over a minute of audio shared with Campus Reform by a student, Terry said that if the Republican Party took over the Senate in 2014 then “colleges will start closing up if these people have their way.” 

Terry went on to say that “there are a lot of people out there that do not want black people to vote, do not want Latinos to vote. Do not want old people to vote, or young people to vote. Because generally, people like you are liberal.”

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, used a point of personal privilege to rise on the floor of the House and comment on Terry’s remarks.

“I am a firm believer in academic freedom and I am a firm believer in that professors should have that freedom to express their views to their students,” Cafero said. “I find it offensive as a Republican, as a parent, and frankly as a citizen of the state of Connecticut that we would have in our public universities a professor who would make such a comment.”

He said today it was about Republicans, but tomorrow it may be about Democrats.

He called on the professor to apologize to his class, the university, and the state in general.

“I would also call upon the administration of Eastern Connecticut State University to demand that apology from its adjunct professor,” Cafero said. “. . .That kind of talk does no one any good.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the chamber applauded Cafero’s remarks.

Less than an hour later Terry offered an apology through a university spokesman.

“During my creative writing class yesterday, I allowed my own political opinions to color the discussion,” Terry said.” I regret the language I used and I apologize to any students in the room who were offended. As a liberal arts university, Eastern is known for encouraging debate and discussion about a host of social and political issues. My role in my own classroom is to keep the debate lively yet respectful. I did not meet that standard yesterday, and for that I am truly sorry.”

Aside from being a professor, Terry was a cross country and track and field team coach at Eastern Connecticut State University. He’s been teaching at the university for about nine years.

Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville, said the comment was “unfortunate.” However, she deferred to the university for comment on the matter since the audio didn’t offer much in the way of context.

A spokesman for the university told Campus Reform that ECSU’s “faculty has academic freedom to conduct their classes in whatever way they choose, this is not a university matter.”

Editor’s Note: ECSU says Terry has never been the head cross country and track and field team coach. A spokesman says he has “not served in his role as assistant coach for more than two years.”

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(23) Comments

posted by: Stan Muzyk | April 22, 2014  5:04pm

A slip of the lip. Brent Terry wisely apologized.  Case closed.

posted by: dano860 | April 22, 2014  5:40pm

Christine I’m glad you picked up on this one. I heard it on another site and found it offensive. It still remains a question as to why this would even come up in a ‘creative writing’ class.
According to the last sentence, the university would stand behind a professor that espoused the hate of the KKK. This is a sad statement with regards toward our State subsidized schools.
The apology rings pretty hollow too.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 22, 2014  6:18pm

“If Republicans had their way colleges would close”

Hmm, he admits he allowed his own political beliefs to come out and he is sorry.

If that kind of outrageous stupidity is what he is really thinking, then I wouldnt fire the guy, but give him a medal.

Finally, someone who tells it like it is and doesnt deny that liberal professors are brainwashing young people. He proves what people have been saying for years.

All we can do is change the rules for tenure in public colleges and universities in the state of CT syatem. You want academic freedom that’s great, but as taxpayers we’d like our freedom too to deny lifetime employment for those far out on the left and the right.

Notice he never denied the factual basis of his comment was wrong.

posted by: newview | April 22, 2014  8:20pm

House Minority Leader “Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, used a point of personal privilege.”

Maybe that’s what Brent Terry really wanted to say….politicians have far too many “points of personal privilege” , special interests, personal agendas, lobbyists agendas, big business agendas…to really care about me and you…white, black, hispanic, old, young…take your pick!

Politics and politicians are out of reach, and they’re words are nothing beyond feel good sound bytes….total disconnect!  I applaud Eastern CT and Mr. Terry for allowing students to become critical thinkers by hearing the other side.  It’s no surprise a politician would violently object.  The last thing Politics and politicians need is a graduating class of critical thinkers.  Mr. Terry…to you I say thank you.  Let the punishment be done at an apology to appease the Politics of Government and “Education”.  God knows we can’t go around offending the “institutions” that bind and gag us.

posted by: Fisherman | April 22, 2014  9:02pm

Don’t think so Stan: Terry actually believes what he said (of course, its dribble). But if the shoe was on the other foot Democrats would demand a federal inquiry; and investigate the tax status of the statement maker.

posted by: Ct Hostage | April 22, 2014  9:41pm

A slip of the lip.

BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

yeah.. just a tiny little mistake.  Ooops!  He probably didn’t even know what he was saying when he was saying it.

Hey, it happens!

It was probably also taken out of context as well.  That’s always a great excuse.

I like how ECSU said that they don’t get involved with HOW the professors teach.

Okay.

How about getting involved in WHAT they are teaching??  This is a Creative Writing class.  Just how does a professor of Creative Writing “accidentally” go off on a vile little screed like this?

He needs to be removed.  It is totally unacceptable that people like him feel completely safe and comfortable preaching this kind of garbage to the next generation.

posted by: Noteworthy | April 23, 2014  6:16am

Aside from the insulting monologue, what’s equally shocking is the ignorance of the commentary.

posted by: JH_1 | April 23, 2014  8:36am

This kind of hateful messaging should have no place in any educational institution.  Unfortunately, it probably happens a lot more than what we all hear about.  Mostly at the college level.


It’s a shame that so many educators attempt to sway their students towards their their own ideology. 


You want students to be critical thinkers?  Be fair.  Offer commentary (both pros and cons) on both sides equally and let the students make up their own minds.

posted by: Flack53 | April 23, 2014  8:50am

So, ECSU gives its faculty ‘academic freedom to conduct their classes in whatever way they choose.’ Evidently, if Mr. Terry chose to launch a screed against people of the Jewish faith or African Americans, that would be permissible, too? After all, it’s his classroom, so anything goes. Yet another reason this once great country is going right down the tubes.

posted by: Michele | April 23, 2014  9:26am

After doing research on college speech codes I am convinced that most people have almost no awareness of the First Amendment protections of professors and students on college campuses. This professor’s comments may have been offensive to some, but they were not fighting words nor could they be considered sexual harassment. I don’t agree with this professor’s opinion but I fully support his right to say what he thinks as long as the classroom environment allows students to disagree without fear of a lower grade. If we do not begin discussing issues openly (instead of always shutting our opponents up), we will never progress as a state or a nation. I am a right-leaning moderate, and unfortunately, this professor’s point needs to be considered while understanding his use of hyperbole to shock students into thinking about politics and education. Education could easily suffer if Republicans do not make education a priority in the future.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 23, 2014  9:58am

Here is the issue as it relates to students being able to speak their mind.

First of all most students won’t do that as we raise them to respect their elders and teachers first and foremost. In the 18-22 age range they haven’t quite figured out their place in the world and how to effectively respond to this type of garbage.

My son graduates from UConn on Mothers Day. He had a left wing sociology professor that was far worse than anything he had seen in any class in 4 years. The apple (in this case my son) did not fall too far away from the tree.

He challenged her outrageous comments in a calm professional way and when he started making points that his classmates agreed with she shut him down. It then became an issue where she would spout off not just left wing ideology but things that were so far out there and so factually inaccurate, that other students then started to get the courage to challenge her. She would then make a comment and then hands would go up and she would say “I’m not taking comments now.”

Sorry but this academic freedom stuff is baloney. She was tenured and there isnt a thing they can do to her.

posted by: Daniels Jeffrey | April 23, 2014  10:29am

The first amendment protects our rights to free speech, sometimes no matter how dumb or inappropriate they may be in some context.  Most of us, even legislators, certainly have been in same category as this professor. 

With all the legislature has yet to do; this was not worthy of using its time; let alone their obvious lack of understanding of the First Amendment.  Move on General Assembly.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | April 23, 2014  11:22am

DrHunterSThompson

I can’t believe the coverage this has received. Mindblowing ignorance abounds. This is America, this is college, this is about ideas, ideology, discussion, debate, education, the ability to think critically and to write about it.

Criticism of this instructor is misplaced. Who cares what he says about anybody. It’s about creative and critical thinking and writing.

Cafero, and the rest of you, need to just go back to sleep.

HST

posted by: Matt W. | April 23, 2014  12:14pm

Matt W.

He should be able to say whatever he wants BUT his bias and comments should be disclosed in the course description.  Those students are consumers and they have a right to know what they are paying for in advance. Let them decide for themselves (with their parents) if they want to pay for this type creative writing instruction.

posted by: ASTANVET | April 23, 2014  1:06pm

I’m ashamed to say that I’m an ECSU grad!  Last time I checked, academic freedom and free speech does not cover lies.  You can’t LIE about things and claim academic freedom.  Guess what bud, i went to school.  I’m conservative.  I went there to pull myself out of poverty, and better MYSELF and later, my family.  That was not a “liberal” thought… that was self fulfillment, cost/benefit analysis.  I’m not saying he should be fired, but if i were a student today, i would protest his office, his dean, the registrar to ensure a reduction in his attendance in his class room.  Bring attention to his bigotry, and his lack of intellectual acceptance of other people’s viewpoints, ideology, or way of life.  He is a college professor, paid by the state tax payer… this is just the unfortunate tip of the iceberg in our institutions of higher learning… they are so tolerant!! HA! what a joke!

posted by: GBear423 | April 23, 2014  1:12pm

GBear423

I do not understand how an educator can be that closed minded. To villify fellow Americans because they have a different opinion of government’s role in our society. 
If ECSU chooses who joins the faculty, then they are responsible for the performance of that member. Its amazing that they made a Statement such as that.
Judging by the vitriol that man has, I do not think for a second a student would have a chance of passing if they were to oppose his opinions openly.

posted by: Janster57 | April 23, 2014  4:45pm

I’m delighted that the entire legislature took time out of their busy day to take a firm stand on this important issue.

posted by: ALD | April 23, 2014  7:31pm

Gbear423, For several reasons it’s been many months since I have posted at this site.  But this subject, and your comment, begs a response.

You say:  “I do not think for a second a student would have a chance of passing if they were to oppose his opinions openly”.


I ask:  If after hearing the intolerance, hate, and bigoted comments that this progressive liberal is free to vent on his naive students, in the name of free speech, how would you feel if your son or daughter actually did pass his class?

Don’t be so sure he is alone in his progressive all consuming hate, and intolerance.  He is just the tip of the iceberg.

posted by: art vandelay | April 23, 2014  11:18pm

art vandelay

@Stan Muzyk,
His comments by NO means were a “slip of the lip”.  These are his TRUE beliefs, and they have NO room in a college classroom PERIOD!.  Can you imagine if Byron D’LaBeckwith was a college professor and spouted his beliefs in a classroom?  Professor Brent Terry is no better than him.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 24, 2014  7:12am

Free Speech today is all about whether or not you have the correct (notice I didnt say “right” politics).

This professor will be fine. Harry Reid can mislead America and say on the floor of the Senate of all places, that Mitt Romney had not filed tax returns which was a lie and he was fine.

The CEO of Mozilla donates money to a political cause state referendum against gay marriage although the man in the workplace was as supportive of his gay employees as anyone could be, yet he was run out of his job.

posted by: art vandelay | April 24, 2014  9:20am

art vandelay

OK!  For you non history buffs, Byron D’LaBeckwith was the klansman who shot Medgar Evers.

posted by: Greg | April 24, 2014  9:53am

Angry, liberal college professor is angry and liberal!!! Anyone who is shocked by this world-chainging discovery please raise your hand.

I’ve heard worse at UCONN a decade ago and the various blathering was met by either sarcasm or challenge, the same manner as JBJ describes.

I had to take a GenEd philosophy class and somehow found my way into a “feminism” class back then.  100 students in the lecture hall while this angry, liberal humanities professor (!!!) was man bashing constantly. Finally one kid asks “Um…am I the source of all that is wrong in the world simply because I have testicles, because that’s essentially what you’re saying?”

The class LOL’d, she got angry, and that was the end of it. Nobody took her seriously, nor did these ECSU kids most likely.

posted by: Marie Jane | April 25, 2014  4:56pm

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