Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hettle: UNI's 'Pink Locker Room'

I assume other Iowa bloggers writing on the Hettle/Deignan dispute are seeing a significant increase in hits, particularly from this technorati search tag (samuel-alito-undue-burden-on-us). From my stats, 80% are from out of state with a significant number working university town IP addresses.

This suggests a couple of things: one, university types have a healthy appetite for obscure blogs (self evident, at some level); two, the story particulars make for some friendly faculty meeting chit chat (okay, only if you’re one of the handful of departments without a certified paranoid narcissist); and third, if you strip away the Alito politics and the details, there is something essentially troubling about the use of academic freedom in tenure for the spurious purpose of derailing another academic’s career.

In surfing the comment section in the primary source for this story, Protein Wisdom, Ph.D. politics is a common theme.

Well, whether or not they took it seriously is really beside the point. Hettle wanted Deignan (Which is preferable, Deignan or Paul?) to lose standing with his professors, to “smack the upstart down a notch, teach him to respect those with power” so to speak. Paul is justified in, to me, obligated to start, firing back at Hettle, regardless of whether or not it affected the former’s career. (Link)

It is difficult to comprehend an academic community that seemingly tolerates such myopic, self-referenced behavior from one of its faculty. I assume UNI will comment at some point, preferably sooner, but UNI is not often in the spotlight with controversy so they might need some time. When UNI does comment, we can only hope they take this case seriously.

In a similar situation -- a blog comment string gone bad over the University of Iowa’s pink locker room -- UI was quick to address the controversy, and deftly showed off the appropriate level of concern and institutional angst when addressing the press. I’m not sure we’ll get that from UNI; as noted in Iowa Hawk’s comments to Protein Wisdom’s first post, UNI is a good enough sort of school and, perhaps, we should only expect a good enough response.

And my favorite comment in the Protein Wisdom string to the first Hettle/Deignan post provides a dose of clarity.

this contains all that one really needs to know about the tenured Dr. Hettle. (Link)

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