Maricopa Community College District Settles With Scottsdale World Politics Professor

Professor Nicholas Damask worked with FIREFIRE to defend his academic freedom rights after his college tried to force him to apologize for quiz questions about Islamic terrorism. [Photo courtesy FIRE]

TEMPE – The Maricopa County Community College District has settled with Scottsdale Community College Professor Nicholas Damask to avoid a lawsuit by him against the District for its initial failing to protect academic freedom in the case of Scottsdale’s World Politics curriculum.

Damask, a popular political science professor at Scottsdale Community College, has won a major victory for academic freedom, after the college publicly chastised him, in response to criticism and death threats he received on social media for quiz questions he wrote that connected Islam to terrorism.

Nine days after publicly vilifying the professor the college reversed gears and apologized to him for “a rush to judgment.” Now it has paid up as well. The District has agreed to pay Damask $155,000.

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“As someone who warned the District leadership that publicly attacking one of our long term professors over a student claim was misguided,” said District Governing Board member Kathleen Winn. “I am again reminded that the death threats received by Professor Damask and the need to relocate from his family home was real harm. The social media attack that caused this was an inappropriate handling of the students complaint. The student did not follow any of the protocols to make a complaint and took the test questions out of context and intended to do harm by doing so. Academic Freedom is not to be used selectively. The college damaged its relationship with this professor, the community and each other.”

“The settlement was fair and the student may use whatever legal resources he has to try to prove harm. I am confident that in a court of law the students’ case will be dismissed,” continued Winn. “In the court of public opinion the community should ask why a professor was not protected from death threats, (caused by the students actions), why the college administration flip flopped on its handling of this matter and why after telling the professor he could not disclose terms the college did and has once again exposed him to further attacks. This points to a failure by the leadership of the district. There clearly is a prejudice, but it is not against Islamic terrorists, but the taxpayers of Maricopa County.”

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