The chancellor at Scottsdale Community College has apologized for “the uneven manner” in which it handled a professor that drew criticism on social media over test questions about Islamic terrorism. The community college initially criticized the professor and even suggested he be required to meet with an Islamic religious leader to review the contents of his course.
Scottsdale Community College (SCC) had “scrambled” to draft an apology statement on behalf of the way it reactred to professor Nicholas Damask, who gave his class three quiz questions about Islamic terrorism, according to a statement by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
The organization added that the quiz questions asked about “the context in which terrorism is justified by some in the Islamic religion, wherein Islamic doctrine and law terrorism is encouraged by those who justify it, and who terrorists believe they are emulating.”
The questions were later criticized on social media, with one student claiming that the questions were “in distaste of Islam,” causing the community college to “panic,” according to FIRE.
Professor Damask — who has been teaching at SCC for 23 years — said that the school even suggested that he be required to meet with an Islamic religious leader in order to review the content of his course.
“Colleges can’t take away a professor’s academic freedom rights because they want to stem criticism on social media,” said FIRE’s Katlyn Patton.
SCC has since apologized for its behavior and affirmed Damask’s academic freedom after the professor worked with FIRE to defend his rights, according to the organization.
On Monday, the district’s interim chancellor Dr. Steven R. Gonzales personally apologized for “the uneven manner” in which the college handled the situation.
“I apologize, personally, and on behalf of the Maricopa Community Colleges, for the uneven manner in which this was handled and for our lack of full consideration for our professor’s right of academic freedom,” wrote Gonzales in an email to FIRE.
The chancellor went on to state that he would launch an independent investigation into the matter.
Gonzales added that a committee will also be created for the purpose of “champion[ing] academic freedom education and training, and to resolve academic freedom disputes in the hope of ensuring this fundamental academic value is better understood and realized alongside our longstanding commitment to the value of inclusion.”
“I’m happy that the Maricopa Community College governing board has acknowledged the importance of the First Amendment and academic freedom, even into subjects that may be controversial — without that freedom of thought and inquiry, America just isn’t America anymore,” said professor Damask.
“And I’m grateful for groups like FIRE that are willing to stand by me in the fight to defend that freedom,” he added.
Scottsdale Community College did not respond to Breitbart News’ request for comment.