Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Weapon (Or: The Pocketknife)

As discussed in "The Statement of Charges", the suspension of Professor Mills hinges, overtly, on some kind of incident regarding Professor Mills and his pocketknife.

Here are statements on the matter, beginning with that from the lawsuit (pdf) of Professor Mills:

In October of the year 2000, one of my students was performing part of a play written by Tim Boyd called 'The Hitchhiker'. In the play, one of the characters removes a knife from his pocket and pursues another character off stage with the knife drawn. We were acting out this play on the stage. While acting out the scene, I took out my knife and used it to show how I thought that part of the play should be acted. I was on stage when I did this. The students present were in the audience at the time, and none of them were on the stage. There was no one within 15 feet of me when I did this. Nevertheless one of the students in the audience apparently complained to Professor Kuntz.

Now the memo (pdf) from Professor Kuntz to Professor Mills:

A student reported (and you confirmed) that you took out of your pocket a 5 inch spring action knife and displayed it in class as a means of making a point. A student received this gesture as a threatening gesture, and your actions were reported to myself and to campus police.

Your actions were in direct violation of both the faculty handbook and laws concerning the possession and display of such weapons in public education institutions.

Your bringing weapons of any kind (concealed or openly displayed), considering recent instances of violence in academic settings, invites a very strong response from your students and colleagues. I cannot think of any reason how your carrying weapons will better serve the students or the university or how these weapons might assist you in the execution of your responsibilities here.

The student also reported you continue to make off color remarks concerning your colleagues, women, gay students, and minority populations on campus.

And now the post from someone who claims to have been there during the incident in question, posted on the Western Front website:


I happen to have been a witness to the "knife incident" in question, and am disgusted that

A) It was a member of my class that considered Mills's behavior with the knife to be dangerous in any way, and reported him for it,

B) A well-respected, tenured university professor apparently can't be considered responsible enough to handle a knife intelligently,

C) Mark Kuntz has the gall to pretend this is all about a knife, when the real reason was Mills making fun of Kuntz's name, and

D) Suspending Mills for the remainder of the quarter wasn't enough to satisfy Kuntz's vendetta, it had to be for Winter quarter as well. What does that come out to, one month per blade inch?


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