Lake Ingle (senior, religious studies) was permitted Monday by IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll to return to his religious studies course titled “Self, Sin and Salvation” after being temporarily barred from the class.
Ingle was accused of violating the school’s academic integrity policy when he voiced his opinions regarding gender, sexism and white privilege in an allegedly disruptive manner during the Feb. 28 class session.
Dr. Alison Downie, the professor of the course, took exception to Ingle’s actions and gave Ingle an Academic Integrity Board referral form the next day.
The accusations from Downie against Ingle included “a refusal to stop talking out of turn” and “angry outbursts in response to being required to listen to a trans speaker.”
Both Ingle and Downie did not reply to March 19 emails from The Penn requesting comment.
Ingle maintains he was banned from the class because his personal views on the topics contradicted Downie’s.
Ingle received a letter March 2 from IUP Provost Timothy Moerland, which said he could not contact Downie or any other members of the class in any form until the issue resolved itself.
Ingle was not permitted to attend the class until Monday, when Driscoll sent an email to all IUP students explaining Ingle was allowed to return. Ingle was informed last week of Driscoll’s decision.
“After further consideration,” Driscoll said in the email, “and without having seen the decision or reasoning of the Academic Integrity Board that met on March 9, 2018 to review the case, I have decided to indefinitely pause the formal university process without resolution.”
In addition, Dr. Pablo Mendoza, assistant to the president for social equity, will facilitate discussions during the class “to foster behaviors leading to a constructive learning environment,” according to the Driscoll email.
Driscoll also said a senior faculty member with “significant experience in the First Amendment and a long career as a successful classroom teacher” will monitor the class moving forward.
“If these steps do not yield positive results,” Driscoll said, “I reserve the option to restart the university’s formal processes.”
Driscoll also said his decision “opens me to charges of not following agreed upon processes and policies, and perhaps to grievances and lawsuits.”
However, he defended his stance by stating, “In matters that involve the fundamental values of IUP such as open discussion, civil dialogue, and reasoned disagreement in the service of learning, I will take the risks rather than rest on the safe but ‘foolish consistency that is the hobgoblin of little minds.’”
The incident has made national news over the past two weeks, appearing on media outlets such as The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, CBN News and Fox News.
A petition on change.org titled “Fire Indiana University Professor Alison Downie” had 1,482 signatures by Thursday evening.
Conversely, another petition on the same website, titled “#STANDWITHDOWNIE, IUP professor wrongfully accused of prohibiting free speech” had 421 supporters as of Thursday evening but was no longer asking for signatures.
Driscoll concluded the email by saying all members of the university could use the incident involving Ingle and Downie as a learning experience.
“I am hopeful,” he said, “that what we all learn in the weeks ahead will inform a thorough review and revision of the underlying university policies to make sure that we are meeting our educational mission in the IUP Way, while still complying with the law of the land.”
Ingle posted a public response on his Facebook page.
“Though I am curious how the Academic Integrity Board would have ruled, I am thankful I can continue the course and graduate on time,” Ingle said in the March 19 post. “So, I am considering this a victory.”