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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

CMU VS. Dennis Lennox: The Administration Has Spoken

Dennis Lennox was right and the administration did use the opportunity of the university's spring break to hold a secret closed door meeting to reprimand him. He was found guilty of all three charges against him and he was formally reprimanded, though not expelled. Here is a copy of the press release from Students Against Gary Peters, the group Lennox heads up...

A student who has raised questions about Gary Peters teaching at Central Michigan University while he runs for Congress was convicted by school administrators for student code violations during a secret, closed-door disciplinary hearing held over spring break in violation of the state Open Meetings Act.

Students Against Gary Peters spokesman Dennis Lennox was notified Tuesday afternoon by e-mail that a tribunal decided he was guilty of three charges for distributing copies of The Peters Report, a student newsletter with editorial content critical of Peters.

He will receive a formal reprimand, which will be placed in his academic record and could affect his academic future. An appeal will be filed immediately and action will be taken to ensure his rights are respected.

It has been widely reported that administrators were considering expulsion for the CMU junior when the charges were announced on Nov. 27 -- the same day the ACLU threatened CMU with legal action for banning videotaping on campus.

While CMU didn't expel a student for exercising his First Amendment rights, it's unfortunate he was denied the opportunity to defend himself against these charges -- which were part of an effort to silence students for criticizing Peters. This has not been an open, honest and transparent process. These out-of-control friends of Gary Peters are ruining the reputation of CMU in their quest to silence students raising legitimate questions.

A secret, closed-door hearing was held after CMU administrators refused to participate in a Feb. 27 hearing when Lennox tried to videotape the proceeding. The school claims they are the only ones who can record proceedings -- a stance that violates provisions of the Open Meetings Act (, which says that "a public body MAY [emphasis added] meet in a closed session … to consider the dismissal, suspension, or disciplining of a student … IF [emphasis added] the student or the student's parent or guardian REQUESTS [emphasis] a closed hearing."

CMU spokesman Steve Smith claimed the student code forbids students from recording hearings, though WNEM TV-5 revealed there was no such provision in the school's regulations (

The Open Meetings Act (, as well as the First Amendment to the Constitution, clearly allows videotaping of public hearings. The statute says "meetings of a public body shall be open to the public and shall be held in a place available to the general public. All persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting except as otherwise provided in this act. The right of a person to attend a meeting of a public body includes the right to tape-record, to videotape, to broadcast live on radio, and to telecast live on television the proceedings of a public body at a public meeting."

Peters is challenging Congressman Joe Knollenberg despite a contract requiring his "full-time … primary commitment" as a professor through the 2009/10 academic year. He is paid $65,000-a-year to teach a political science class once a week for three hours.

While this story continues to be largely ignored by the MSM, the right blogosphere, both in Michigan and beyond, is now abuzz. Here is Michigan conservative blogging powerhouse Right Michigan. Here is the story cross posted on national conservative heavy weight Red State. Chet Zarko, at Outside Lansing, also picks up the story.

Last week, I hypothesized that the momentum wasn't enough to drive this story forward. The story continues to be driven by the blogosphere and usually that isn't enough however with the introduction of Red State there may be new legs to the story.


Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you violate policies. Most importantly harrassment and defamation of character are not going to help win others over to your side. Lennox needs to channel his passion into contructive ways and have an end objective and not that of just ousting someone whom he does not agree with politically (and personally). The fact that legislators are on university payrolls as professors should not be news to anyone. In fact I see no harm in it. Particularly when you need them in your corner to garner more state funding...certainly doesn't hurt. No different than someone having a part-time job along with their full-time job. In this case in particular since Peters' salary is comprised from private funding...I respect Lennox (and actually have some similar political views) and appreciate his passion however he could be more effective if he tried another angle.

mike volpe said...

You need to educate yourself on this subject before spouting off because you just said a bunch of nonsense. Are you actually saying that a university should keep on its payroll an individual that is running for U.S. Congress in a district hundreds of miles away? What happens if that individual wins? Will they simultaneously be a Congressman in D.C. and teach in Michigan. Furthermore, the Griffin Chair is supposed to be non partisan. How is someone supposed to be non partisan and run for Congress on the Democratic ticket?

If you had dug deeper you would have found that released emails confirm our suspicions. This person was hired because he is a Democrat and furthermore he was hired because the Governor recommended him. They hired this person because of ideology and favoritism and disregarded the obvious conflict of interest he created.

This of course is not about violating school policies. If it were, the freshman and sophomores would also be hauled into the disciplinary office and face sanctions for under age drinking. They aren't. Only Lennox is and that's because he challenged the administration.

Anonymous said...

Yes, acutally I do. And if he does win, then he should vacate his teaching position. This is not rocket science...and I have educated myself on the issue. Why shouldn't this individual be working for the university?...your "supsicions" lead you to a democratic conspiracy based on some emails? Regardless on whether the gov. or some other political sap in the system recommended him. Who really cares...granted his salary is a bit much for only one class...but it's not tax payers' dollars funding his salary anyway...I'm not up on how endowed chairs work in Michigan but in my state there is some consideration by the donor on who is selected for the position or family if the donor is dead. Maybe I'm missing something but I do not see a conflict of interest until he actually wins a seat in Congress and then fails to step down. I work at a University, I'm Republican (one of a few it seems) and I also hold a County Commissioner Seat in my area. We also have an education professor who is a democratic and is a state representative...I could go on...but maybe things are diferent in Michigan.

mike volpe said...

There are three main problems with your arguement.

The first problem is that the Griffin Chair is a three year position. You are basically saying that it is perfectly fine for someone to be hired on even though they very likely will only serve one of those three years. There is a long hiring and search process and repeating it one year after the next takes time and effort. If someone has a real conflict that likely doesn't allow them to serve the entire three years, as Peters clearly does, they shouldn't be considered.

Second, campaigning for U.S. Congress is in and of itself a full time job. If someone is running for U.S. Congress, they shouldn't have time to do anything else. Especially when they are campaigning in a district hundreds of miles from the campus. Clearly, if he is really dedicated to winning the Congressional seat, he can't possibly be dedicated to the Griffin Chairmanship.

Third, the Griffin Chair is supposed to be someone that is non partisan. If Peters is running for U.S. Congress, then he clearly doesn't fill that bill.

I don't know your specific situation and it is of minor relevance to this issue. I know that many State Legislators are part time. That maybe your deal. I also don't like when any legislator holds another position because it has a natural conflict of interest. The best example is former State Senator Charles Walker in Georgia.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying. Definitely makes it a bit more clear. I forgot the part about being a three-year position.