A Texas A&M professor was suspended for allegedly criticizing lieutenant governor

A professor at Texas A&M University was suspended following allegations of criticizing Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, sparking concerns about political influence over academic freedom.

The incident: Professor Joy Alonzo was suspended and investigated for alleged critical comments about Lt. Gov. Patrick during a lecture on the opioid crisis.
* A student complaint, reportedly from a student close to Lt. Gov. Patrick, led to the probe, which eventually cleared Alonzo and allowed her to keep her post.

Reaction: Advocates for free speech are worried that the university’s handling of the situation will limit academic freedoms.
* Kristen Shahverdian, of nonprofit PEN America, described the case as “a frightening encroachment on her [Alonzo’s] academic freedom that sends a chilling effect across all of higher education in the state.”

Multiple allegations: The precise content of Alonzo’s controversial remarks has not been specified in the censure, leading to concerns about potential self-censorship due to fear of offending political figures.
* Laylan Copelin, Texas A&M vice chancellor for marketing and communications, defended the university’s actions, asserting that ignoring the censure would have been “irresponsible.”

Past frustrations: This case is Texas A&M’s second recent incident where the university has allegedly bowed to outside pressures, following the altered hiring of distinguished journalist Kathleen McElroy.
* These cases have resulted in local outcry, including the resignation of Texas A&M President Katherine Banks and the establishment of a fact-finding committee by the Faculty Senate to examine the hiring case.

View original article on NPR

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