On January 20, I tweeted a question to Kent State University President Beverly Warren: "Does verbally supporting terrorism and violence violate Kent State's Code of Conduct for faculty?" Warren, who is normally responsive on Twitter, did not reply.
My question was prompted by the Clarion Project's damning research into Kent State University Professor Julio Pino, who the FBI is investigating for recruiting students for the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Pino has consistently expressed his support for terrorism since 2002, even going so far as to nearly cross the line into material support for terrorism by running a pro-Al-Qaeda website with the expressed purpose of assisting acts of terrorism.
The professor received tenure in 1998, but instead of explaining if and why the university can't terminate him or place him on a leave of absence, KSU President Warren only says that while the institution finds his comments "reprehensible," it won't take action because it respects his free speech.
Since Warren wouldn't answer my inquiry, I looked at the KSU Faculty Handbook and Manual and code of conduct posted online:
Chapter 6-01: University Policy Regarding Employment states that each employee is expected:
"To maintain a professor demeanor. Each Kent state university employee will exhibit a high degree of maturity and self-respect and foster an appreciation for other cultures, one's own cultural background…"
When Professor Pino interrupted a lecture by a former Israeli diplomat in 2011 by shouting "Death to Israel" at him, does KSU consider that a "professional demeanor," "a high degree of maturity" and "foster[ing] an appreciation for other cultures?"
What about using his campus office to handle communications for a pro-Al-Qaeda website?
The employee code of conduct also says:
"To respect the dignity and well being of others. Each employee of Kent State University will demonstrate respect for all campus and external community members. Therefore, to purposely threaten, accost, demean, or to engage in gender, sexual or religious harassment, use vile, obscene or abusive language or exhibit lewd behavior, to be under the influence of alcohol or a drug of abuse while performing employment responsibilities is prohibited."
In a previous article we posted about the Pino controversy, a student recalled Professor Pino's repeated use of the word “nigga [slang for nigger]." He said Pino also described the KSU President and her administration as being a dictatorship worse than Stalin's.
Does KSU consider the use of this word to be "vile, obscene or abusive language?"
Does KSU consider its employee's degradation of the school leadership a way of "demonstrating respect" for campus members?
Does KSU consider his support for terrorism, extremism and genocide (which calling for the destruction of Israel is) to be "respecting the dignity and well-being of others?"
Part 4 of the faculty handbook says employees are expected to "prohibit discrimination, while respecting the differences in people, ideas and opinions."
Does KSU consider Pino's support for Al-Qaeda, Hamas and ISIS to be "respecting the differences in people, ideas and opinions?"
When Pino wrote a letter accusing academic supporters of Israel of being complicit in homicide and basically wishing death upon them—which the school was forced to condemn afterwards—was that "respecting the differences in people, ideas and opinions?"
Part 5 of the handbook says employees are expected "to practice personal and professional integrity, and to discourage all forms of dishonesty, deceit, and noncompliance to the code of conduct."
Does KSU consider Pino's activities to exemplify "personal and professional integrity?
How about when Pino posted on Facebook, "Find a representative of gluttony or oppression and blow the motherfucker's head off?"
In denying his support for violence and the Islamic State, Pino has obviously lied. Doesn't KSU consider that to be a "form of dishonesty, deceit and noncompliance to the code of conduct?"
"Outside activities of a professional nature are encouraged if the activities are consistent with the individual's responsibilities to the university and in furtherance of the aims of the university."
Does KSU consider Pino's "outside enterprise" of contributing to a pro-Al-Qaeda, terrorist-equipping website to be "in furtherance of the aims of the university?" What about his professional outside activity of writing letters supporting terrorism and genocide against Israel and its supporters?
The handbook says KSU subscribes to the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. It says that professors should be free from censorship—but that statement is followed with the caveat that their special position in the community imposes special obligations.
"As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution," it says.
Is supporting terrorism—including very nearly materially supporting terrorism by helping to manage a pro-Al-Qaeda website with terrorist training manuals—"exercising appropriate restraint?"
Is Pino’s treatment of the visiting former Israeli diplomat and the hate-filled letter to academic supporters of Israel considered by KSU to be "showing respect for the opinions of others?"
The First Amendment is a right. Teaching at a university, especially when there are so many aspiring professors, is not a right. It is a privilege; a prestigious position where one is entrusted with influencing the next generation. It should be saved for only the most qualified and professional candidates. The students of KSU deserve better.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.