Professor eMail controversy strikes higher ed once again

“The UI is not a welcome place for Republican views, especially as long as professors such as Lewin … use their university eMail accounts to send hateful messages to college students with opinions different from theirs,” Gries wrote.

Gries defended use of the term, “coming out,” saying there is “no patent placed upon the term.”

“The goal of ‘Conservative Coming Out Week’ was for Republicans to be honest with their community to who they are: Republicans,” he wrote. “I believe we accomplished just that.”

The Iowa political eMail battle comes just a month after a University of Wisconsin (UW) professor was scrutinized by conservatives in his state for using his official university eMail account to criticize new labor union laws passed by Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature.

Using Wisconsin’s Open Documents Law, conservative groups filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking eMail messages from Cronon’s UW account that mentioned key words in the labor union political fight, including “recall,” “collective bargaining,” “union,” and “rally.”

Some in higher education questioned whether the political pressure from outside groups would discourage educators from using their school eMail addresses when discussing polarizing issues.

“You might see [professors] turning to their Gmail or Yahoo! or AOL accounts for a while after this,” said a faculty member who spoke to eCampus News on the condition of anonymity.

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