Danaka Katovich | DePaul College Democrats
After the anti-hate protest on Wednesday, May 1, students and faculty were still not satisfied with the administration’s non-response to the article written by philosophy professor Jason Hill. At the current moment, the administration is not making efforts to hold Hill accountable for directly offending the students he teaches and the faculty he works with. Prior to this, President A. Gabriel Esteban wrote in a letter that DePaul “holds academic freedom in the highest regard” and that faculty have the right to have controversial opinions if they keep “mutual respect” in mind. It is unlikely that the administration will take any formal stance on the matter.
In his article published in The Federalist on April 16, Hill took the controversial stance that Israel has the right to annex the West Bank and strip Arabs living there of their right to vote, classifying them as non-citizens.
As journalists, we take the First Amendment as seriously as anyone. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to publish stories that increase transparency in what the administration is doing, actions that directly affects students and faculty. We wouldn’t be able to hold them accountable. We can do that here at our independent, student-run paper.
Hill doesn’t take the First Amendment lightly either, and he shouldn’t. Hill has the right to his beliefs, as controversial and offensive as they are. When he went on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to discuss the controversy, he discussed the backlash the article received and his experience with what he deems a suppression of this right.
“I’m a conservative independent who speaks his mind very clearly and will not be silenced,” Hill said on the show. “Students are calling for my removal, for the president to fire me, calling for my downfall, for Professor Hill to be dumped.”
Later, Carlson responded to videos of students protesting inside the Arts & Letters Hall, calling them “hysterical children” who have taken control of the political discussion on campus.
Students accused Hill of advocating for “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.” Hill pushed back against this claim in an interview with The DePaulia and on Carlson’s show by saying that he never said that — which is true.
But when white supremacists advocate for a white ethno-state, for example, they advocate for something that cannot be achieved peacefully. It cannot be accomplished by politely asking non-white people to leave the country that is their home — a place where they have roots, family and friends.
The same principle applies to Hill’s argument regarding the annexation of the West Bank. If Israel begins to move further into the West Bank, Palestinians will not give up their land peacefully. Israel will be forced to take military action, which would unquestionably result in countless Palestinian deaths.
What Hill and Carlson fail to understand is that students and faculty do not want to censor him. Rather, they want him to apologize for spreading hate speech so publicly and aligning our campus with it. As a tenured professor, when he speaks, he represents DePaul, whether he agrees with that or not.
We are a very diverse campus with students from all cultures and ethnicities. Student protestors have a point when they say they shouldn’t have to be in fear of signing up for classes and getting stuck with a professor who finds their culture “abysmally inferior,” as Hill wrote of the Palestinians.
The Faculty Council voted to condemn the content of the article as an “abuse of academic freedom” but not to condemn Hill himself. We stand with this vote. We cannot suppress someone’s opinion, no matter its controversy. It goes against everything we have learned as reporters and students at a large university. Of all places, college marks a time in our lives when we can critique what’s happening around us and create open discussions with individuals who have the opposite stance as us.
As an academic, Hill chose to use his platform to place racist and xenophobic ideology on our campus. As a member of the DePaul community, Hill disregarded his duty to serve his students and colleagues. Hill shouldn’t apologize for his opinions because he has the legal right to free speech, but Hill needs to re-evaluate his position as a member of the DePaul community and apologize for abusing his platform.