Response from Professor David Kaufer · 12 October 2005

I wish to respond to Amanda Hamlin's post of September 6 2005. What she has posted is an irresponsible letter she sent me AFTER I turned down her grade appeal. She criticizes her professor for a grade of B (must one now receive an A to insure her academic freedom?), but worse implicates me as agreeing that her professor is a "repeat offender" when it comes to denying students their academic freedom while covering up his offenses. I deeply resent these charges, which I feel is a violation of my academic freedom.

I wish to clarify that I never once talked to Ms. Hamlin about her professor and that any language she quotes from me was taken from a conversation with another student where I was actively defending the professor's academic freedom. Creative writing classes teach art and art often offends as part of its mission. Ms. Hamlin's professor is an internationally acclaimed artist, has a long history of excellent teaching and has shaped the lives of students who are themselves practicing artists. Nonetheless, some students, for whatever reason, are offended by what they hear or read in a creative writing classroom. This is an inevitable and repeatable occurrence, but not the action of a "repeat offender" in a criminal sense. Ms. Hamlin has every first amendment right to feel as she does about her professor and express her views to any forum she pleases. But to assume a grade of B is a violation of her academic freedom, to quote me out of context so as to insinuate that I agree with her and will do nothing about it, and then to publicize it as fact on the Internet is reproachable.

David Kaufer
Professor and Head
Department of English
Carnegie Mellon