by Ed Kazarian
By now, many readers will be aware of the events which have unfolded around Cheryl Abbate, a Ph.D. student and instructor in Philosophy at Marquette University. Those who are not up to speed should read this excellent post by Justin Weinberg at Daily Nous. Briefly, Ms. Abbate has been the subject of public, political attack by an associate professor of Political Science at Marquette, John McAdams, concerning matters that took place in her classroom, after class, and in a subsequent meeting of the class.
Leaving aside the highly problematic evidentiary basis for Prof. McAdams' claims (the report of a single student who had attempted to record Ms. Abbate covertly and without her permission, and had lied to her when confronted about what he was doing), and the extent to which McAdams' version of events seems to have misrepresented what took place in material ways, there can be no question that it is categorically inappropriate for a senior faculty member (or indeed any faculty member) to publicly attack a graduate student over what happens in his or her classroom, regardless of whether that student is in the faculty members's own department.*
The fact that Prof. McAdams' intervention has, rather predictably, led to Ms. Abbate becoming the subject of a number of gendered attacks only exacerbates the wrong here, which is certainly a matter of principle as well as of consequences. But it does make it even more urgent that Marquette should address the situation and do whatever is necessary to offer Ms. Abbate support.
In the same spirit, many of us throughout the philosophical community have sought to express our support for Ms. Abbate and our dismay at the conduct of Prof. McAdams. Justin Weinberg has suggested writing the provost and the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Marquette. John Protevi has taken that suggestion up in the form of an open letter, to which he invites others to add their signatures. Keeping in mind that a public wrong needs to be countered publicly, I am posting this, here, to further express my support—and I invite others here to add their names in the comments should they wish to do so.