Should a professor be allowed to give an assignment favoring her own political views?
A professor at a public university in Texas is under investigation from school administrators for allegedly forcing students in her graphic design class to create anti-gun posters for a personal anti-gun campaign she had launched.
Midwestern State University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Betty Stewart confirmed to Campus Reform Friday the school has launched an investigation into professor Jennifer Yucus? conduct after a student filed an official complaint on Thursday.
According to the complaint, obtained by Campus Reform, the professor compelled students in her graphic design class to create artwork opposing firearms on campus and opposing pro-gun legislation currently pending before the Texas state legislature.
The professor then used the artwork students created online to publicize an anti-gun petition entitled ?MSU is anti-Concealed Carry on Campus? and on a now deleted Facebook page opposing firearms, says the complaint.
?On Monday, April 1, around 7 PM (class was 5:30 ? 8:20), Jennifer Yucus, Assistant Professor of Graphic Art/Design, compelled students from her Computers For Artists class to advocate in favor of a political petition opposing firearms on campus, in opposition to a pair of bills currently before the Texas legislature, using personal art materials and MSU resources,? reads the complaint.
?Several of my classmates were uncomfortable with the assignment and either quietly or openly expressed this,? it continues. ?Professor Yucus asked students to rationalize objections by thinking of it as a job from an employer (or words to that effect).?
The complaint adds that Yucus ?did require all works to include the URL to the petition? she had created and adds that students were photographed while crafting the posters to give the illusion of youth support.
?Professor Yucus took photos of her students in the process of drafting and creating the posters, but did not say how these would be used,? says the complaint. ?The posters were then hung in the hallways of the Fain Arts building, giving the impression of student support.?
Some of the photos later appeared on an anti-gun Facebook page that appeared to have been created by Yucus. The page appeared to have been deleted after the complaint was filed, but Campus Reform was able to capture the posted images before they were removed.
According to the complaint, Yucus used her official university-issued e-mail address to later forward a URL to her petition to the entire class.
State law in Texas appears to forbid professors at public universities from using their authority to compel others to advocate for political causes.
?A state officer or employee may not use official authority? to interfere with or affect the result of an election or nomination of a candidate or to achieve any other political purpose,? reads subsection C of 556.004 of Government Code, Title 5, entitled ?Open Government, Ethics.?
Stewart, told Campus Reform the university is taking the allegations very seriously.
?It is a serious offense,? she said. ?My first step is to speak with student directly after reading the report that I received. Then I will speak with the professor.?
However, Stewart noted that throughout the duration of the investigation, professor Yucus will continue to remain on active duty and teach her classes.
?Yes, she will still be allowed to teach her students,? she said.
PICTURES in linked article
Prof at public univ under investigation for allegedly forcing students to make anti-gun posters
Campus officials are saying the issue has been resolved, but they haven't even contacted the student who filed the complaint.
Midwestern State University officials said they investigated a student?s complaint about how an assistant professor handled a gun control art poster project and, in a statement released by public information officer Julie Gaynor late Wednesday, said that ?this issue has been resolved satisfactorily.?
However, MSU officials closed the investigation without contacting the student who filed the complaint, according to Campus Reform reporter Oliver Darcy late Wednesday.
Darcy spoke with the student, who continues to remain anonymous, after the MSU statement was released.
Darcy said the student told him that even though seven days had passed since filing the complaint, MSU had not contacted the student to hear more about the incident.