Ward Churchill Wins, Awarded $1
A Colorado jury yesterday decided that Ward Churchill had been fired, not for his blatant plagiarism, but for saying outrageous things that embarrassed the University of Colorado. He was awarded a dollar in damages, presumably because his actual plagiarism mitigated the fact that it wasn’t the reason for his termination.
The former ethnic-studies professor won his civil case against CU on Thursday after a unanimous jury found he was fired in retaliation for his controversial essay about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But the jury awarded Churchill only the paltry amount in damages, allowing both sides to claim some measure of victory in a four-year battle pitting free speech and tenure against the value of academic purity.
It’s not over, however:
Denver Chief District Judge Larry J. Naves will decide in a separate hearing whether the former Boulder professor can return to his job or receive “front pay” for future years he could have worked at CU.
[Churchill’s attorney, David] Lane says he will file a motion to recover legal fees for hundreds of hours of work he and co-counsels Qusair Mohamedbhai and Robert Bruce put into the case — but he deferred questions about a dollar amount. “We work cheap,” he said. Still, the bill, if assessed to CU, is likely to be well into seven figures.
And, so, we’ll be hearing more from Churchill.
Churchill briefly spoke outside the courtroom and said, “It took four years. It took a while. And it was quick, it was justice.” CU “has been exposed for what it is,” Churchill said. “It was found by a jury that I was wrongly fired,” he said. “They not only violated my rights, but my students’ rights and the community’s rights.” Churchill said he was satisfied with a $1 judgment and said his case was not about money. “Reinstatement, of course,” he said. “I did not ask for money. I asked for justice.”
Churchill’s massive academic misconduct was easily discovered; and yet he was chair of a dept. at Colorado. No one cared.
The principle has to be equal treatment. If your university typically overlooks plagiarism among your professors, you don’t get to randomly brutalize one plagiarizing professor because he said something that pissed off people.
I find it a non sequitur, however, that a University has no right to be upset with professorial misconduct if it houses a big time athletic program with a history of NCAA violations. Academics are, after all, the university’s raison detre whereas sports are a side business.
UPDATE: I also concur on all points with Freddie, especially points 1, 4, and 8.
Photo: LAT. The caption, which is theirs, is premature.