Religion, evolution, creationism, academic freedom,
harassment cl aims -- not a hypo!
VOLOKH at mail.law.ucla.edu
Tue Feb 1 17:40:28 PST 2000
Christina Kelly, "COCC prof charges harassment," The Bulletin (Bend,
Or.), Jan. 20, 2000, at A1 (note that the start of this column on LEXIS is
garbled; I've entered it from a faxed copy that our library got for me):
A Central Oregon Community College biology professor has filed a
against the college for what he termed harassment based on his religious
. . .
Haley's complaint is a response to an investigation of him by the
Haley said he is being investigated for allegedly teaching creationism --
belief that God created man and the universe -- in his
first-year biology courses. In the past three years, five complaints have
lodged against Haley, from students and faculty.
He also acknowledges that the administration is concerned about several
complaints from female colleagues and students that he belittles the
intelligence of women and treats them differently in his courses. Haley
he doesn't treat women any differently from men.
Haley, 44, said he is a devout Christian and makes no bones about it. His
office is adorned with Christian prayers and devotional sayings, and he has
open Bible on his desk. He is the faculty adviser for the COCC-sponsored
Crusade for Christ Club.
He believes as a Christian that it is his job 'to recruit for Christ' in
personal life. However, he said he does not recruit in the classroom or any
other place that is inappropriate.
'I have agreed to work within the rules, and the rules state you can't
discuss the supernatural in science class,' Haley said. 'Science is a model,
I have pointed out to students that just because we agree on the rules of
natural science, it doesn't mean it's the absolute truth.'
Evolution is a part of the course in Haley's biology 101, 102 and 103
courses, which are aimed at nonscience majors. Haley said he teaches
thinking and encourages students to think for themselves and look at
evolutionism with a critical eye.
Jay Bowerman, acting director of the Sunriver Nature Center, took Haley's
course last quarter and said he found him to be a capable, talented teacher
personal views very strongly at odds with his class material.
Bowerman found it disturbing that Haley would launch into frequent
what he termed "the flawed theory of evolution."
"I think this is inappropriate to teach in a freshman class. He is using
position to advance his theory of creationism," Bowerman said.
Haley denies teaching creationism or preaching in the classroom, although
said he has added his personal opinions on some subjects.
'When the textbook states that humans are a pile of molecules, I
let students know that I don't think I am a pile of molecules,' Haley said.
'People can take that to mean whatever they want.'
Bart Queary, COCC vice president of instruction, wrote a confidential
memorandum to the COCC science department chairman, questioning whether
introducing creationism into any discussion where evolution is part of the
topic. In the memo, Queary also questioned whether Haley shows favoritism to
students in the Christian club in his classes.
. . .
Bruce Emerson, chairman of the science department, said he is also not
allowed to comment on the investigation.
'I will say that Kevin is a stunning teacher,' Emerson said. 'His student
evaluations are good. But I am trying to play this as straight and ethically
possible, and to comment further would compromise that.'
Emerson said creationism versus evolutionism is not an uncommon topic
introduced in high school, but he said it is not generally a subject of
controversy in a college setting.
'There is a boundary between personal beliefs and scientific knowledge,'
Emerson said. 'I tell my students that this is our best scientific
of the world as we know it. I don't make a point of stepping on students
different beliefs. If they want to discuss it outside of the class, I am
than happy to talk with them.'
Haley believes he has been a victim of discrimination since he came to
more than three years ago. He also said it is no coincidence that the issue
escalating as he comes up for tenure at the end of the year. Haley has a
doctorate from Purdue University and degrees in biology and chemistry from
Worcester State College in Worcester, Mass.
People make assumptions about him because of his up-front religious
Haley said. He said accusations about him spreading those beliefs, are
'If they can't do any better than that, then all they are doing is
me,' Haley said. 'I am told there are 'some people' (who are concerned) but
never told who they are and in what context they're speaking.'
Haley said some at the college are making it difficult for him to the
where he worries daily about saying something wrong in class. He said he was
offended when another biology professor, Jeff Cooney, put up
items on his own door, such as messages saying 'Darwinism spoken here,' and
poster of the main characters from the television program 'The X-Files'
that evolutionism is not only science, it is the law.
'It is out of line towards me and students,' Haley argued.
But Cooney said his door has nothing to do with Haley.
'I'm a pro-science kind of guy,' he added.
. . .
Students involved in the Christian club are aware of the controversy and
to have nothing but support for Haley. Christina Barr said she took Haley's
biology class and did not believe he was inflicting his religious beliefs on
'He did teach us to critically think about what we were learning,' Barr
'Nothing is 100 percent certain, and he told us to keep that in mind.'
Haley's contract is up this year. In the confidential memo, Queary states
that if the issues are true and problems are not remedied to the
the institution, 'then COCC would not offer Dr. Haley an additional
contract in 2000-2001.'
. . .
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