EXCLUSIVE: Prof threatens to dock students grade for not using 'gender inclusive' language

Marquette University student Josh Guckenburg says Visiting Assistant Professor James Bahoh told him in November that if he did not use “gender-neutral” language in his next paper points would be deducted from his grade. 

Guckenburg provided Campus Reform with a screenshot of the grade summary from one of his papers, which contains a comment that reads, “use gender inclusive language: humanity is not ‘man,’ nor is it a ‘he.’”

[RELATED: UMN policy would punish incorrect use of gender pronouns]

However, this was not Guckenburg’s first confrontation with his philosophy professor.

According to Guckenburg, a first-year student and a member of Marquette University’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter as well as the College Republicans chapter, at the beginning of the semester, when Bahoh asked his Marquette students for book recommendations, Guckenburg suggested The Right Side of History by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

Guckenburg claimed to Campus Reform that his philosophy professor’s response was “ something to the effect of ‘this is a stupid book, what a stupid-ass choice to read.” Guckenburg told Campus Reform, “I thought [Bahoh] would appreciate the level of wisdom brought by Shapiro.” Guckenburg noted that after class was dismissed, Bahoh later sent him an apology email regarding his remarks toward Guckenburg’s literary suggestion, a copy of which Campus Reform obtained. 

[RELATED: Jewish Studies prof alters Hebrew language to be more ‘gender inclusive’]

Campus Reform exclusively obtained audio of a conversation he says he had with Bahoh after class on November 14.

In the audio, Guckenburg asks the professor “am I going to get deducted points if I don’t [use gender-inclusive language] on my next assignment?” to which the professor responds, “yes.” “OK, so I am,” Guckenburg says. “Yes, you will,” the professor says again. 

Guckenburg said he also met with Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. John Su and filed a bias incident report against Bahoh, audio of which Campus Reform also obtained exclusively. Following the meeting, Su sent an email to follow up on the conversation he had with Guckenburg to discuss a probable solution to Bahoh’s demands.

In the email, Su proposes a solution after “several rounds of conversation with the department chair, Dr. Kevin Gibson, and email correspondence with the instructor, Dr. James Bahoh.” 

Su said that Bahoh “indicated his willingness to accept” future papers without “gender-inclusive” language, provided that Guckenberg include a footnote “to clarify the personal belief that guides you to reject gender-inclusive language.” 

Guckenburg also told Campus Reform that he shared his concern with John McAdams, Political Science Associate Professor at Marquette University. McAdams on December 1, 2019, published on his personal blog, the Marquette Warrior, the story Guckenburg had shared with him.

Campus Reform spoke with McAdams to get his perspective on the situation. When asked about the political culture at Marquette University, McAdams noted that conservatives are the ones in the minority. When asked about the college culture, McAdams made clear that the culture is typical of universities in general.

“Marquette pays lip service to Catholicism, but panders to gays and lesbians... and [Marquette University] panders to transgenderism,” McAdams said. Regarding Bahoh’s issue with the term mankind, McAdams called it “silly.” 

“I don’t like people dictating to students what kind of language they should use… When a professor tries to dictate language when the student wants to use language that has been [used as] standard practice for centuries, is abuse of the student’s free speech,” McAdams said. 

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