Education & Academia

Update: University Librarian Won’t Face Harassment Charge for Suggesting Conservative Books

Ohio State University found one its librarians innocent of “sexual harassment” for suggesting a list of conservative books to students.

Scott Savage, a reference librarian at OSU Mansfield and a member of the school’s First Year Reading Experience Committee, won’t be fired for his suggestion that freshmen students read “The Marketing of Evil” by David Kupelian, “The Professors” by David Horowitz, “Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis” by Bat Ye’or, and “It Takes a Family” by Sen. Rick Santorum.

Human Events U reported earlier this week that Savage’s book proposals prompted a “sexual harassment” investigation after three members of the school’s faculty filed a complaint of discrimination and harassment against the librarian because the list of books he suggested made them feel “unsafe,” according to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which represents Savage.

The ADF tells Human Events U that Savage received a letter from Ohio State University’s Office of Human Resources saying, “Based on the statements, interviews and documentary evidence provided into this inquiry, it is determined there is no finding of discrimination/ harassment on your [Scott Savage] part.”

The letter goes on to say, “…the fact remains their [faculty members] claims of discrimination and/or harassment based on your suggestion of a book does not meet established university criteria for filing such a claim.”

Although David French, ADF senior legal counsel, is pleased that the university has “exonerated” Savage, he feels the school hasn’t grasped the issues at hand. “Its letter says that the university must ‘address allegations’ when those allegations ‘would lead a reasonable person to believe that its policy has been violated.’ Is the university saying that a ‘reasonable person’ would believe book recommendations violate university policy?” says French.

Apparently, the offended professors were most troubled by Savage’s suggestion of “The Marketing of Evil” by David Kupelian. According to the OSU letter, two of the professors “indicated they were offended by the book … because of what they deemed as the incendiary nature of the book’s anti gay stance and lacking scholarly merit.”

The two professors are openly gay members of the faculty and based their harassment claim on sexual orientation, according the OSU letter.

But French says, “The bottom line here is that Scott Savage should have the same freedom to suggest conservative books as leftist faculty had to suggest leftist books. A university faculty cannot be in the business of encouraging leftist speech while it labels even mainstream conservative speech ‘harassment.’”

The OSU Office of Human Resources goes on to make numerous “recommendations” as a result of this case: “discrimination/harassment training for faculty and staff,” a workshop on “intellectual freedom and academic freedom” and to “promote frank, open and respectful discussion among faculty and library staff,” which one of the complaining professors has offered to “spearhead.”

“It is simply astonishing that the university would allow one of the men who led the slanderous campaign against Scott Savage to ‘spearhead’ a ‘respectful discussion’ among faculty and library staff. What’s next? Should Ward Churchill lead a ‘respectful discussion’ of September 11? Should Louis Farrakhan spearhead a ‘respectful discussion’ of anti-Semitism on campus?” asks French. “The only ‘recommendation’ that should have been made was for the faculty to respect the free speech and academic freedom of Scott Savage. Instead it looks as if the university is seeking to placate the complaining professors at the same time that it clears Scott.”

The OSU letter makes six recommendations in all, one of which calls to “maintain confidentiality.” However, French argues that since the charges against Savage were “quite public,” he is “entitled to publicly defend his reputation.”

The school indicated its findings and recommendations can be appealed, but Savage and the ADF appear to be pursuing other options.

“Scott wants to restore his personal and professional reputation. He has filed an internal OSU complaint against the complaining professors. OSU rules prohibit false allegations of harassment, and the complaining professors’ allegations were certainly and obviously false. He’s weighing other options and is resolved that no one else should endure the bullying and slander that he has faced,” says French.

And, as if the school couldn’t look any worse in this matter, once the decision to exonerate Savage was reached, the Office of Human Resources took nearly two weeks to notify Savage or the ADF of it findings. While the “decision letter” was dated April 6, 2006, the post mark on the envelope in which it was delivered was dated April 18, 2006.


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