Student allegedly threatened with failing grade for including Biblical references in group presentation
Wisconsin college student Rachel Langeberg claims she was advised to remove them and threatened by her professor with a failing grade after she included references to the Bible in a graded group presentation.
In a recent letter to administrators at the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County, the Liberty Counsel—a nonprofit, conservative litigation group—accused sociology Professor Annette Kuhlman of expressing “unconstitutional hostility toward religious belief” in her spring semester Crime and Criminal Justice course.
“You will also fail your presentation if your [sic] discuss religion in connection with it.”
Attorneys representing Langeberg allege that Kuhlman warned the student that she would fail her presentation if she moved forward with a religious references in her presentation that Kuhlman had previously deemed “inappropriate.”
“Religious contemplations and the bible [sic] belong to a different realm and not academic sources,” Kuhlman allegedly wrote in an email to Langeberg and her group members, adding that “your argumentation along Christian lines, including the slides you designed in relation to it, are inappropriate for this presentation.”
According to the Liberty Counsel, a draft of the group presentation sent to Professor Kuhlman included a section in which Langeberg used the Judeo-Christian theory of human nature—which asserts that humans are sinful both in practice and by nature—as one explanation for why individuals commit arson.
“I will not allow you to present unless you change this,” Kuhlman allegedly wrote. “You will also fail your presentation if your [sic] discuss religion in connection with it.”
Langeberg subsequently chose to omit the religious references from her presentation to avoid failing the assignment and putting her group members’ grades at risk. Following her interactions with Langeberg, Kuhlman allegedly revised the assignment to require that religious references be excluded from students’ presentations since they were peer-reviewed.
However, the Counsel has described the “peer-review” requirement as an “after-the-fact justification of Dr. Kuhlman’s censorship” since the professor’s original rubric failed to mention that all sources be peer-reviewed sources.
According to the Counsel, Langeberg’s attempt to meet with school’s dean, Dr. Tracy White, and Kuhlman were unsuccessful, which led her to seek legal representation.
“It was highly inappropriate for Dr. Kuhlman to censor this team's work and perspective on the issue, in its original form, based on incorrect and discriminatory statements about the law and religious belief,” Langeberg’s attorney Richard Mast wrote in his letter to the school.
Mast has called on Professor Kuhlman to apologize to both Langeberg and her group members and to share the group’s original presentation—including the religious references—with the rest of the class while acknowledging that she made a mistake.
According to Mast, the school’s “ratification of Dr. Kuhlman’s conduct” is indicative of “institutional discrimination on the basis of religion [extending] further than one professor.”
“Dr. Kuhlman (and all University professors) must respect the rights of students, and cease from religiously discriminatory treatment of students providing academically responsive presentations, in accordance with course syllabi,” Mast Wrote.
UW-Baraboo/Sauk County did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.
Via The Blaze.
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