Ga. college denies instructing profs to offer Abrams rally extra credit

A Georgia professor who offered her students extra credit for attending a Stacey Abrams campaign event claims that five or more other professors from her university department extended the same offer, but the school denies that any of the professors were instructed to do so, as that would violate policy. 

Clayton State University professor Andrea Allen offered students extra credit if they attended an event promoting Democrat Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. But she disputes a university statement allegedly calling her missive a “mistake” and framing her as a left-wing academic, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

”I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the Abrams campaign along with Senator (Elizabeth) Warren are visiting campus tomorrow,” Allen said in the initial email to students. “They would like a really big turnout. To help out I’m offering the following opportunity: If you attend...I’ll add 2 bonus points to your final grade.”

[RELATED: Prof offers extra credit for attending Democrat campaign event]

Allen later clarified that she had intended “they” to refer to the rally’s host, the school’s Social Sciences Society, and not the Abrams campaign.

“The professor acknowledged that she had made a mistake and agreed to fix it by offering extra credit for all political events,” a Clayton State statement obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution read.

But Allen said that the offer was not a “mistake” and that she only sent it after being urged multiple times by Clayton State Social Sciences Associate Chair Joshua Meddaugh to do so.

”Dr. Meddaugh, founding sponsor of the student organization that coordinated the event, asked Dr. Allen to consider offering extra credit,” Clayton State spokeswoman Maritza Ferreira told Campus Reform. “He is not Dr. Allen’s supervisor and made the request as a peer.”

”I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Stacey Abrams supporter,” Allen told the Journal-Constitution. “They cut me out of the loop, which is infuriating to me. No one could be bothered to email me or talk to me until the story comes out on the news.”

”I lean more towards the right,” the professor said, according to WSB-TV.

[RELATED: Prof no longer offering extra credit to oppose GOP tax plan]

Ferreira disputed the professor’s assertion that Clayton State speculated on Allen’s political views, telling Campus Reform, “Clayton State never characterized Dr. Allen’s political leanings. After a student forwarded the post to the media, the media speculated on her political affiliation after reviewing her post to the class.”

“I was called by [Ferreira], and she read me the statement sent to the media, and I immediately said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I called it fake news,” Allen said. “I said, ‘This is completely inaccurate, and you’re throwing me under the bus.’”

Clayton State told Allen not to comment on the incident, according to the professor, but the university disputed that claim. While the school told Journal-Constitution that it did not initiate an investigation concerning the incident, Allen’s husband, Georgia State University professor Scott Jacques, sent an audio recording of a conversation between Clayton State special projects director Jim Flowers and himself, in which Flowers mentioned an “ongoing investigation,” according to the Journal-Constitution.

[RELATED: ‘White privilege checklist’ offered as extra-credit assignment]

Allen is offering her students extra credit for any civic engagement in the interest of fairness for students who did not attend the Abrams function, the Journal-Constitution reported.

”The language used in Dr. Allen’s post to her class was in violation of the faculty handbook and Board of Regents’ policy because it had the effect of being partisan, regardless of her intent,” Ferreira told Campus Reform. “We also became aware that other faculty offered extra credit opportunities for the Abrams event, as they do for other events on campus. The provost sent a notice to all faculty reminding them of the faculty handbook’s policy “Faculty Responsibilities and Protection of Student Freedoms” that such credit must be on a nonpartisan basis.”

While the university states its commitment to a nonpartisan environment, a limited number of faculty and administrators who donated to political candidates and causes in the last two years gave exclusively to Democrats. 

Campus Reform analyzed the donation records of Clayton State employees from 2017-2018, using publicly available records from the Federal Election Commission, in order to determine the political leanings of faculty and administrators at the college.

According to a Campus Reform analysis, 100 percent of all Clayton employees, including faculty members and administrators, who donated to political candidates or causes gave a total of $3,660.91 to Democrat politicians or Democrat organizations, such as Democracy for America and Act Blue.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE REPORT: 100 percent of Univ. of Oregon admin, 99.95 percent of faculty donate to Dems]

According to the records, only 29 Clayton employees, comprised of 24 faculty members, two administrators, and three general staff members, donated to political causes since Jan. 2017.

For the purposes of this data, Campus Reform defined “faculty” as employees of the college that have direct instructional contact with students, such as professors, teachers, and instructors. “Administrators” were defined as employees who manage programming or are responsible for students and faculty, such as department chairs, deans, presidents, and provosts.

Campus Reform sorted individual donors using their stated position at the college. For example, if the individual donor noted that they were a “professor of literary theory,” they were designated as a faculty member. If an individual noted that they were employed as an “executive director,” they were designated as an administrator. In the event an employee’s title was ambiguous and could not be confirmed, they were marked as general employees, but not sorted into faculty or administration categories. Campus Reform used a variation of keyword searches to cull data specific to University of Oregon System employees.

Campus Reform used the most recent FEC donor records from Jan. 1, 2017 to Oct. 22, 2018.

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