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November 21, 2014


Brian Leslie

Dear Dr. Lovell,

As you have been made aware, one of your graduate students, Ms. Abbate, is being criticized for her pedagogy at your university. Prof. McAdams has weighed in with some of the most irresponsible reporting of events that I have ever seen; this is especially churlish of a tenured professor who claims to have political expertise. The story has reached the mainstream (Fox News), unfortunately, based on McAdams's reporting. As I compose this email, comments are appearing on the news page calling for Ms. Abbate's job and disparaging her institution. This is, as we call it in the communication discipline, a "rhetorical exigence."

I hope that I am not the first person to tell you that McAdams is creating a liability (which has both legal and prestige dimensions) to your institution by continuing to disseminate information that a reasonable person would understand is both false and improperly obtained. I hope that you will look into the matter.


Brian Leslie, MA, ABD
Dept. of Communication Studies
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Aaron Ziebart

President Lovell,
Hello, I am Aaron Ziebart a Junior at the School of Business Administration seeking a degree in Finance. I am emailing you to express my disappointment about the actions taken by administration against free speech on our campus. Initially when I heard about the comments by Cheryl Abbate to the Philosophy class regarding same sex marriage, I thought that her comments failed to promote education and intellectual debate in the classroom, that she was being overly biased. One of the purposes of higher education is to have our preconceived ideas challenged and to refine what we believe. She openly took a stance against classroom dialogue and restricted students from expressing the reasons why they agree or disagree with same sex marriage. Then when I looked into it, there was no statements made by Marquette against what Cheryl said. That was until Professor John McAdams spoke against her actions in one of his blogs. His blog was very reasonable and honest, his criticism of the TA Abbate was very mild and he expressed his disappointment in her failure to teach her students about open dialogue in the classroom. He said her attitude was more like a totalitarian, when she allows some controversial things not to be openly talked about and even expressing her opinion as ultimately correct. Then after his blog the university said that his statements were too critical and that he would be banned a tenured professor. This is outrageous! I read over his blog several times, nothing in there is critical towards her, instead its mildly critical of the way she conducted her classroom. What's more offensive is the way Cheryl Abbate treated her student who opposed her views by saying he was a "homophobic", and by pressing him to drop her class. What she did should have been addressed by administration as wrong and she should have been suspended or fired for what she did. Now instead Professor John McAdams is being banned a tenured professor, and is being stripped of his right to free speech and his personal beliefs. I am disappointed by the way this is being handled. I came to this university to engage in open dialogue because I thought that there would be a lot of open dialogue because this is a Catholic university. I assumed that I could promote my beliefs and challenge what other people say here to improve our way of perceiving the world. I propose that you lift the ban from Professor McAdams and discuss with other faculty how to discipline Abbate for how she treated the students in her classroom and for suppressing the values that are supposed to be held here at Marquette.
Aaron Ziebart

John Protevi

Thank you, Aaron. While this letter best belongs addressed directly to President Lovell and / or on a Marquette student newspaper, I'll publish here as well.

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