To the Editor:
I applaud Aaron Fried ’14 for his wonderful column, “Restore Louis Brandeis’ free speech legacy.”Fried powerfully articulates some of the gross abuses that come from vague speech codes on university campuses. Indeed, these vague speech codes are diametrically opposed to the legacy of Louis Brandeis.
He would be ashamed to see a university in his name listed as one of the “12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012.” Unfortunately, Fried does not go into why Brandeis was first listed as one of the 12 worst colleges for free speech in America. Brandeis is not just on the list because of its vague codes, but because of a specific and shameful incident for which the administration has refused to apologize for. In 2008, Prof. Donald Hindley (POL), a beloved and distinguished professor with almost 50 years of teaching experience, was found guilty of racial harassment for explaining the origins of and criticizing the use of a racial epithet, ‘wetback’, in his Latin American
Politics class. Without the adequate due process guaranteed him in the Faculty Handbook, Hindleywas declared guilty, had a monitor placed in his class room and was not given a written account of the allegations or allowed to defend himself. Student and faculty opposition was widely ignored, and deteriorating relations between the administration and Faculty Senate led to a two-year shutdown in the hearing of grievances by the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities.
As a Justice Forum editor, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education intern and Hoot columnist, I worked with FIRE and with the faculty to try to remove Brandeis from the rather odious opprobrium of the Red Alert list. As a Brandeis Alumni, I remain ashamed that Brandeis has remained on the FIRE Red Alert list for almost four years despite the vigorous protests of students and faculty. I renew my call to President Frederick M. Lawrence to finally do justice to Prof. Hindley by apologizing to him for the abuses that he suffered and removing the taint of guilt from his faculty file.
—Daniel Ortner ‘10