Why Peter Wood's Attack on the AAUP Is Wrong

Peter Wood at Minding the Campus complains about the AAUP’s unanimous vote to censure the University of Missouri Board of Curators because the AAUP has yet to find anyone to censure over abuses of Title IX.” What the hell does that mean? The AAUP censure list is a list of university administrations. The AAUP has never censured government agencies. The AAUP just issued an important report denouncing the Obama Administration’s attacks on campus due process using Title IX, and Wood’s response is to whine about the AAUP failing to defend due process.

Wood argued that Click’s “call for ‘some muscle over here’…and her screaming profanities at police officers trying to clear protesters from a public street at a homecoming parade, gave plenty of evidence that she had overstepped her authority as a faculty member.” Of course, none of these actions were done as part of her work as a faculty member, so it’s hard to see what “authority” she was allegedly abusing.

Wood complains, “the AAUP believes that Click should have had the benefit of a faculty hearing…” Yes, that’s what the University of Missouri policies say, and it’s clearly what should happen to avoid the kind of politically influenced trial that happened in Click’s case.

Wood admits to “technical mistakes” by the University of Missouri (that’s what the AAUP calls violations of due process, but Wood apparently only likes due process when it’s used to defend rapists).

But Wood still praises Click’s firing by the Board, and he says about boards of trustees in general, “they should do it some more.” In fact, Wood praises an online article with the headline, ““Melissa Click: One Bad Professor Fired, Thousands to Go.” So who are the thousands of professors Wood would like to have fired without due process?

Wood attacks Click’s “trivial research and feckless teaching.” Has Wood ever read her research or examined her teaching record? Wood concludes, without the slightest evidence offered, that Click “had nothing of value to teach Mizzou students.” Why is she worthless? Wood’s answer is, “Click’s scholarship and teaching involves studies of Lady Gaga and Fifty Shades of Grey.” Ironically, Wood himself has published about Lady Gaga (apparently, only conservatives are allowed to be cultural critics).

Wood even claimed, “it ought to raise serious questions about ‘university governance’ that she was ever hired in the first place.” Of course, Click had no known record of calling for muscle and screaming profanities at police, so how would a university know that she shouldn’t have been hired? The only signal Wood seems to have of her future actions is that Click was a left-winger who studied pop culture.

Wood seems to be saying that trustees should destroy “university governance” and stop having faculty determine who is the most academically qualified for a position. Instead, trustees can do the hiring since they come from the real world, and can keep leftists like Click off the faculty. These pre-purges of left-wing faculty, like the purges of thousands of already hired faculty that Wood endorses, would mark a new era of McCarthyism. He justifies all this because of “the wanton power of the faculty activists” who have “intimidated their colleagues into silence.”

In Wood’s delusional world, faculty activists are all-powerful thugs, and trustees are the police officers restoring order. He wants them to be minding the campus, it seems, until it becomes more obedient.

Not long ago, I thought Peter Wood was someone who, despite his many misguided ideas, believed in principles of due process and academic freedom. This essay seems to indicate a shift toward viewing academia as a tool of politics, where due process and academic freedom should only apply to those he agrees with. Wood seems to be adopting a policy of purging left-wing faculty by any means necessary, and only laments that trustees lack the courage to break a few vases and join his crusade.

2 thoughts on “Why Peter Wood's Attack on the AAUP Is Wrong

  1. “Wood admits to “technical mistakes” by the University of Missouri (that’s what the AAUP calls violations of due process, but Wood apparently only likes due process when it’s used to defend rapists).” I did nothing of the kind. I said that “One would have to go deep within the wreckage of Mizzou’s governance to see” whether there were technical mistakes.

    Peter Wood

    • No, you wrote, “Let me allow that Mizzou’s Board of Curators might have made some technical mistakes in its firing.” It was one of the rare laudable things you wrote in the essay, and now you deny writing it (or at least believing it). What you call “wreckage” are Mizzou’s written policies for dismissing faculty, which Click (and the AAUP) had every reason to believe should be followed. You don’t have to go very “deep” to read Mizzou’s written policies, unless you’re trying to claim that written due process procedures at a university should be ignored at the whim of the trustees.

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don’t impersonate a real person.