Eve Browning, chair of philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio, threatened a bisexual student with disciplinary action for his criticism of Islam.
During a meeting with then-graduate student Alfred MacDonald, Browning claimed that even though UTSA is a public university, he could be dismissed for his criticism of Islam.
MacDonald, who recently went public about the 2016 meeting via Facebook, was having an out-of-class conversation with another student when he said: “I don’t have a high opinion of Islam.”
“I was having an outside-of-class conversation with another graduate student about the religious leanings of philosophy professors. Specifically, I was curious if there would be any bias toward me if I took a religious philosophy course as an atheist,” he explains in his detailed recollection of the encounter with Browning. “I didn’t think there would be; I took a theology course at a Catholic university, and was openly atheist, and had zero pushback about this.”
“So I commented that I had a good opinion of Christian professors in this regard. The student I was talking to mentioned that she was Christian but that her fiance was Muslim,” he continued. ” I said ‘I don’t have a high opinion of Islam’, and mentioned the aspects you heard in the recording. I mentioned that I didn’t have anything against her fiance personally and that I was strictly talking about the religious beliefs themselves. I took this to mean that she wanted to talk about our personal lives, so I mentioned my fiancee and our leanings and we talked about what restaurants she’s worked at.”
MacDonald explains that, after the conversation with his fellow student, Browning called him into her office for a meeting, stating she was concerned about his behavior.
“Since she insisted that I meet her in person in light of this, I reasoned that her issue is probably not convenience or efficiency but concealment of at least some part of what she was going to talk about,” he explained via Facebook. “Therefore, as Texas is a one-party consent state, it was in my best interest to record whatever this was.”
“Well the reason why we’re meeting and why I asked to meet is that several faculty and several other graduate students have expressed concerns about things you’re doing in class and out of class and the nature of the concerns,” Browning said during the meeting. “There’s a concern about your having made some inappropriate comments to other graduate students.”
Browning then states that a fellow professor claimed MacDonald had “compromised and harmed one of our main interests.”
“It was a conversation you had with a couple of other students,” she continued. “The topic of one student being engaged to a Muslim came up, and it was alleged that you made offensive comments about Islam to that student.”
“I said that I was bothered that I could be killed in ten Muslim countries. I’m bisexual,” MacDonald stated.
Browning then tries to twist MacDonald’s words to seem like he was insulting a specific person rather than expressing his concerns about an ideology that throws homosexuals from rooftops.
“Doesn’t that strike you as an inappropriate thing to say about someone’s fiance?” Browning asked.
She does this a few more times before stating: “that kind of thing is not going to be tolerated in our department. We’re not going to tolerate graduate students trying to make other graduate students feel terrible for our emotional attachments.”
“I can refer you to the Behavior Intervention Team on our campus which consists of a counselor, faculty member, and person from student affairs who are trained on talking to people about what’s appropriate or what isn’t,” she continues.
MacDonald then asks her what she means by “it won’t be tolerated?”
“We’d put it either before the behavior intervention team or the student conduct board and ask them to make a recommendation,” she says in response. “Whether they would refer you for counseling; whether they would recommend that you be academically dismissed.”
Obviously surprised, MacDonald asks Browning to clarify whether he could be dismissed for exercising First Amendment rights at a public university.
“Making derogatory comments? Yes,” Browning replies. “Things like this will get you not hired anywhere.”
She continues by saying comments like this would get MacDonald “fired if you were working in my office. The Islam comment would get you fired.”
“Would it really get me fired to say that I could be killed somewhere?” he asked.
“In that situation as you’ve described it, absolutely yes,” Browning responds.
The full audio of the meeting has been removed from YouTube due to a “Privacy Complaint” that was made by Browning earlier this year.
Listen to the abridged version of the meeting below and read the full transcript here.
During his Facebook post, MacDonald describes how he felt during the meeting by stating:
Eve Browning’s comments during the meeting suggest that she thinks three things:
(1) I am wrong to mention how easily Islamic law would have me put to death.
(2) I should feel sorry for mentioning that I could be killed in this way.
(3) Not only should I be sorry, it should be so obvious to me that I shouldn’t even question her.
MacDonald is currently “in Good Standing at another university and not within Eve Browning’s reach. This is why I have chosen now to go public about this incident and expose the degree of speech suppression happening under Eve Browning at UTSA.”
I have taken so long to go public with this because I want to do it right. Eve Browning, and professors like her, are unfit to guide the direction of scholarship and knowledge. There’s no telling how many ideas have never seen light at UTSA under her leadership. Whatever her role, she thinks the foundational principles of universities themselves are a joke. She should not be in charge of anyone in any knowledge-based profession, and she should be stripped of her taxpayer-funded influence at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Featured Image Via Facebook/UTSA