The scandal continues at UMASS Amherst

So much for safeguards to ensure that faculty hold themselves to “the highest standards,” and that students learn in an environment open to “multiple points of view.”

The campus of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Credit: UMass Amherst.
The campus of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Credit: UMass Amherst.
Dexter Van Zile
Dexter Van Zile is Managing Editor at the Middle East Forum.

Kumble Subbaswamy, the chancellor of UMass Amherst, made $579,000 last year, and his boss, Marty Meehan, president of the UMass system, made more than $659,000.

Between the two of them, they made more than $1.2 million in 2018. And still, neither one of them will do their jobs when it comes to ensuring that professors don’t use college classrooms to coerce students into affirming their personal political agendas.

For his part, Subbaswamy will tell you all about the policies that are in place at UMass Amherst to prevent indoctrination in the classroom. He just doesn’t enforce them.

Subbaswamy gave the game away in a letter mailed to CAMERA on Oct. 10, 2019. The letter, dated Oct. 7, 2019, was sent in response to concerns about the work of Sut Jhally, a professor at UMass Amherst who currently serves as chairman of the communications department. CAMERA expressed these concerns in a letter sent to Subbaswamy on Sept. 18, 2019.

In particular, CAMERA stated that “Jewish students report that they have been subjected to anti-Semitic taunts from their fellow students at the school, and there have been numerous instances of swastikas being spray-painted on campus. It is CAMERA’s belief that anti-Israel propaganda is a contributing factor to this hostility.”

In his response, Subbaswamy writes that UMass Amherst has adopted several statements from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) which, among other things, remind professors that they should adhere to “the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline,” and that they should “demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectuals and counselors.”

The chancellor also informed CAMERA that the AAUP declares that professors should “at all times be accurate,” “exercise appropriate restraint” and “show respect for the opinions of others” in their public utterances.

After citing these statements, Subbaswamy wrote that UMass Amherst “is confident that we have the necessary safeguards in place to ensure that faculty hold themselves to the highest standards, and that our students learn in an environment that is open to multiple points of view.”

If the “safeguards” at UMass Amherst were sufficient, the school would have addressed Jhally’s misdeeds a long time ago. Jhally showed disdain for the concept of accuracy when he failed to correct the problems in his film after they were pointed out in a number of venues. For example, he altered the quotes of two journalists in his film, in one instance significantly changing the meaning of what was said. Such acts would result in a student getting a failing grade for a paper, or a journalist losing his job, but Jhally got away scot-free.

So much for the “safeguards” at UMass Amherst.

Jhally showed disdain, not respect, for students in 2017 when he encouraged a group of his supporters to promote his one-sided and distorted film, “The Occupation of the American Mind” in college classrooms. He said, “We want to make use of that captive audience.” Again, so much for safeguards at the school.

Jhally, who earned nearly $178,000 from his work at UMass Amherst last year, showed contempt, not respect, for students when he used a final exam to coerce them into affirming the notion that there is a functional equivalence between Nazism and Zionism.

Subbaswamy and other officials at UMass have been presented with evidence about inaccuracies in Jhally’s movie and about abuse of his authority and time in the classroom, but for one reason or another they have refused to act.

To make matters worse, Subbaswamy ignored any of the specific points raised in CAMERA’s letter (which can be seen our website camera.org). All Subbaswamy did was point to UMASS policies, which he does not enforce.

So much for safeguards at UMass Amherst.

And so much for Massachusetts taxpayers getting their money’s worth from college administrators in the UMASS system.

Dexter Van Zile is a researcher at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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