Thursday, February 17, 2005

 

"Maybe she needed to be spit on"

Ward Churchill spit on a Native American woman. And his lawyer now says that "maybe she needed to be spit on." Full article from today's Denver Post ( DenverPost.com - LOCAL NEWS) pasted below:

Clashes with Churchill found
CU records show several complaints about prof's behavior
By Arthur Kane Denver Post Staff Writer

University of Colorado officials received repeated complaints about Ward Churchill's demeanor and temper, beginning two years before he was granted a tenured faculty position despite never going through the normal review.

Churchill was promoted at the university, and there is no record in documents released Wednesday indicating that he has ever been disciplined for inappropriate conduct.

Additionally, a university spokeswoman said Wednesday that while Churchill was required to sign an oath pledging to "support the constitutions of the United States and Colorado" as a condition of employment, the university has not been able to find a signed copy. [there is a signed copy of one of the pages of this contract, but the actual page with the actual oath on it, signed, cannot be found--which means that as of Friday morning Churchill will be working illegally, as it is illegal for any teacher to teach in the State of Colorado without signing this oath. If he refuses to sign the oath, he cannot be legally a teacher in this state. If he admits to signing the oath, he is bound by Colorado law which states that he can and will be held accountable for violent threats against the government of this country as a teacher. It should be interesting watching him try to wriggle his way out of this one...]

University officials who supervised Churchill said they had no recollection of the complaints in Churchill's personnel file, but those on the receiving end of what they described as Churchill's temper said they had not forgotten.

Retired university administrator and journalism professor Joanne Easley Arnold said she received a call from Churchill in 1989 during a controversy over the naming of a dormitory on campus. She was trying to get the dorm named for a former director of student housing. Churchill, not yet a professor, was pushing to have it named for the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.

"He suggested I should back off my proposal and if I didn't, I would get hurt," Arnold said after she was contacted by The Denver Post. "I was shocked, and that's why my dean heard about it."

David Lane, a Denver lawyer representing Churchill, dismissed any claims of wrongdoing by his client.

"Obviously, the police didn't get involved ... and I doubt anything happened," Lane said.

CU officials are reviewing Churchill's writings and speeches after it was reported that he had likened some of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center victims to a top Nazi and made other controversial statements. Gov. Bill Owens and others have urged CU to fire Churchill.

The Arnold incident, which came five years after an allegation by Churchill's first ex-wife that he had threatened violence, is not documented in Churchill's file. She reported it to the dean of the journalism school, Arnold said.

Kaye Howe, a former administrator who had recommended Churchill for a one-semester teaching position at CU, also was not aware of the alleged threat but was not surprised.

"It was a very stressful period of time in renaming the building," she said.

In 1990, Howe was a vice chancellor and Churchill's supervisor at his job as director of the University Learning Center. She served as a reference for Churchill for a one-semester teaching job but expected him to return to the center. She was surprised when he received a tenured teaching job.

"The tenure process is a laborious and long one, and it's very rarely given early," she said.

Three years after receiving tenure, Churchill was again accused of inappropriate behavior.

In April 1994, two women wrote Charles Middleton, then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, about a March 28 incident outside the San Francisco Press Club involving Churchill and his wife at the time, Marie Jaimes.

"Carol Standing Elk was leaving the Press Club when Marie Annette Jaimes brutally attacked and injured her," Deborah J. Cruze wrote in a letter to Middleton in Churchill's file. "Then, as Ms. Standing Elk was trying to recover from the attack, she was spit on by Ward Churchill."

Cruze could not be reached for comment, but Lane dismissed the incident, saying it comes from a person who did not like Churchill.

"Maybe she needed to be physically attacked," he said. "Maybe his wife acted in self-defense. Maybe she needed to be spit on."

Middleton, who at the time told Cruze the university would investigate, said Wednesday he did not remember the incident.

Staff writer Arthur Kane can be reached at akane@denverpost.com or 303-820-1626.

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