Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-05-27
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gay professor tries to regain job after harassment charges
by Charlsie Dewey
2011-03-23

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Robert Klein Engler, a former adjunct professor at Roosevelt University, wants to tell his story, and with the word harassment lingering around his name it is not hard to understand why he is deeply concerned with clearing his reputation.

"I got up in the morning and I had no intention of harassing any students," he said, referring to the day that he told a joke in his "City and Citizenship" class at the university. "Nor did I ever imagine that I would do that. Supposedly I told a joke which some person interpreted as harassment. But there has never been any official statement by the university about this."

The class had been assigned a book about legal immigration and the discussion for the day centered on the new and controversial Arizona immigration law. "I wanted to get the students involved in a discussion on it so I told them I had heard this joke and wondered what they thought about it," he said.

The joke was, "There was a sociological study done in Arizona and they discovered that 60 percent of the people in Arizona approved of the immigration law and 40 percent said, 'no habla ingles.'"

Engler has been outspoken throughout his career, writing extensively on policy issues from his conservative perspective, including articles expressing his disagreement with amnesty for illegal immigrants despite how many years they've been in the United States. He said that although he holds strong views on certain topics, he does not share those views with his students and that he did not discuss his personal views on the Arizona immigration law.

"I am good at what I do," he said. "I never wear buttons that support one cause or another to my classroom. I never assign as required reading any article I have written and published. I allow students to express their points of view and then let other students make counter arguments. I keep prejudice and bias out of my work. I have done exactly that for over 30 years and have never had any complaints."

He maintains that his viewpoints and writings are not racist and that he is not racist.

Engler said he had no idea after telling the joke that any of his students had been upset by it and none of his students ever approached him to discuss it.

Later, when he found out that a student had accused him of harassment and that administrators wanted to meet with him to investigate the allegation he did not know it was related to the immigration joke.

Engler, a gay man, said he became concerned immediately that a student had filed a false sexual harassment allegation against him and says he spent months over the summer of 2010 trying to find out the details of the harassment claim. He said he wanted to make sure he knew all of the details and had a formal, written document from the school before he sat down to discuss the matter.

After months of trying to obtain the details of the harassment allegations, Engler received a letter of termination in the mail. He was ultimately fired for refusing to cooperate with a formal university investigation. He believes that he was doing everything he could to cooperate with the information he'd been given and without any written documentation or details and that it was actually the school that was not cooperating by refusing to provide him this information.

"I asked the university if they could document this and give me some details. Vice President Deb Ford refused to do that on at least two occasions," he said.

Engler eventually learned the details of the harassment allegation from the school newspaper, the Torch, which published information about the joke and the student who had made the harassment charge.

Engler and his attorney, Doug Ibendahl, are concerned with the handling of the harassment charge by the administration, believing that the professor had a right to know the allegations prior to sitting down at a formal investigation discussion.

The agreement between Roosevelt University and the Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization, (RAFO) IEA-NEA states, "Any student complaint against a faculty member deemed by Roosevelt to raise the possibility of disciplinary action against the faculty member shall be brought to the attention of the faculty member. The faculty member shall also be given an opportunity to respond to such complaint prior to any disciplinary action being imposed."

A grievance has been filed on behalf of Engler by RAFO, IEA-NEA over the termination. "We are still trying to settle this through negotiation," said Ibendahl. "The union is involved because there is a union contract which the union has a duty to defend. At a minimum, we see, there are two clear violations of the union contract."

Engler hopes to be reinstated as an adjunct professor at Roosevelt, to be compensated for the classes he'd been expected to teach that fall semester and to clear his name of the harassment charge.

"There were no offensive words in what I said," he said. "I did not single out any student, nor is there any record of me consistently doing this to anyone. So all of the things that you think about in terms of harassment, none of that was there."

The school's harassment policy does include jokes as harassment. The policy states, "Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, acts of communication causing emotional distress, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance."

It also says, "Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment or enrollment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive."

Rachel Beiersdorf, a student in the "City and Citizenship" class said, "Professor Engler had an obviously dry sense of humor and it came as no shock to most of us that he would make a joke of that content. His joke was certainly not meant to offend anyone and he made it clear that it was simply a bad joke and not meant to be anything more."

"A college student is free to complain about whatever they want and being offended is a subjective thing," said Ibendahl. "You can't say this young student should not have been offended, but the university and their officials have a different duty and there duty is to look at complaints and to say what reasonably rises to the standard to constitute true harassment."


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

DIVERSIONS Shedd opens exhibit on amphibians 2015-05-19
Giovanni and Brackett to get GSU honorary degrees 2015-05-12
UIC holds ninth annual Lavender Graduation 2015-05-06
LGBTQ and Allies prom biggest one yet 2015-05-05
'LGBTQ Leaders in Higher Education' June 26-28 2015-04-29
Gender Fusions explores the 'Galaxy' 2015-04-28
Upon entering school, LGBTs of color face lifelong risk of poverty 2015-04-23
Night of Noise puts LGBTQ youth issues on blast 2015-04-22
Louisiana school to allow lesbian student to wear tux to prom 2015-04-07
WIU survey includes LGBTQ info for students 2015-04-03
Illinois Safe Schools Alliance to host LGBTQA youth Night of Noise 2015-03-30
GLSEN releases Illinois data from National School Climate Survey 2015-03-20
Rep. Cassidy moving bill to ban conversion therapy on children 2015-03-17
LGBT club at Michigan university in rift with school 2015-03-10
Latin School teacher devotes entire week to gay history 2015-03-03
LETTERS Not cool for school 2015-02-18
ELECTIONS 2015 High school teacher Meegan seeks to upset 33rd Ward dynasty 2015-02-17
Study: Coming as LGBT in school contributes to well-beling 2015-02-10
Kirk co-sponsors safe-schools act 2015-02-04
Lambda Legal on nomination of Rev. Meeks as Chair, IL State Board of Education 2015-01-23
Community responds to Rauner's nomination of Meeks as ISBE Chair 2015-01-20
Shimer College president talks about 'worst college' label 2015-01-14
ACLU files Federal complaint: School board segregates trans bathroom use 2014-12-19
School board member causes controversy with anti-gay remarks 2014-12-14
EI wants Warren Township School board member to resign 2014-12-12
Panel addresses education for LGBTQ youth 2014-11-24
Survey: LGBT youth in Illinois often hear anti-LGBT remarks 2014-11-13
Anthony Papini takes over Illinois Safe Schools Alliance 2014-11-12
Cuts at Columbia College hit LGBT-related course 2014-11-09
Chicagoan named finalist for international teaching award 2014-11-05
Aizumi to speak for transgender awareness at Roosevelt 2014-10-30
Sociologist C.J. Pascoe talks bullying at Elmhurst College 2014-10-29
GLSEN webinar shows climate for LGBT students in U.S. schools 2014-10-29
Point accepting applications as of Nov. 1 2014-10-22
Cumberbatch on OUT cover; lesbian pundit canned 2014-10-21
Illinois Safe Schools says farewell to David Fischer 2014-10-13
Sami Grisafe inducted into school's hall of fame 2014-10-13
Notes: Holy Name event Oct. 14; NU school asks orientation 2014-10-08
Alliance brunch looks at progress, challenges for safe schools 2014-10-08
Illinois Safe Schools Alliance welcomes new ED 2014-10-07
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.