On the 26th of April, 2011, Dr. Rachel Tudor, of the English department at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, was awarded the Faculty Senate Recognition Award for Excellence in Scholarship, which is not why she lost her position.

This is:

Douglas N. McMillan, interim vice president for academic affairs reportedly said that Tudor's "lifestyle" offends his Baptist beliefs.

[In 2010] Tudor's colleagues recommended her for tenure. But, she said, the administration's response was to contact legal council to find out if they were required to honor the recommendation of the faculty committee.

Rachel Tudor in 2011 - DallasVoice.com photoSo McMillan, and perhaps some others, wanted her gone because of "lifestyle": Dr Tudor is a trans woman.

After four years of getting nowhere she's currently teaching at a community college in north Texas the Department of Justice has stepped in, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, charging the school and the State Regents with discrimination on the basis of sex.

Now before you get all uptight about this trans business, read this bit from the actual complaint:

35. Dr. Tudor asked Vice President McMillan and Dean [Lucretia] Scoufos to explain why they had decided to oppose her application. That information would have enabled Dr. Tudor to supplement her portfolio before the President reviewed it.

36. Both Vice President McMillan and Dean Scoufos refused to explain to Dr. Tudor why they decided to oppose her application.

37. In refusing to discuss with Dr. Tudor why he opposed her application, Vice President McMillan treated Dr. Tudor differently than a similarly-situated, nontransgender male English professor. Vice President McMillan met with the other professor to discuss how that professor could strengthen his portfolio. The other professor followed Vice President McMillan's advice and supplemented his portfolio before it was submitted to the President of Southeastern for a final decision on his application. Based on his supplemented portfolio and the guidance that he received from Vice President McMillan the non-transgender professor received promotion and tenure.

So it wasn't just transness. As to Dr. Tudor's portfolio, she's said: "I've [had] 10 peer-reviewed publications. This is a teaching university. The department chair doesn't have 10."

State Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office will defend the university and the Regents; SOSU President Sean Burrage said he'd been advised not to discuss the case in public, which is pretty much according to protocol.

Meanwhile at DOJ, Eric Holder issued a statement:

We will not allow unfair biases and unjust prejudices to prevent transgender Americans from reaching their full potential as workers and as citizens.

This tells me that Holder probably hadn't actually read the complaint, since it's based on Dr. Tudor's womanhood, not her being trans. And it's not like Holder doesn't have his own issues and prejudices with people other than "his people."

More persuasive, I thought, was the statement of assistant AG Vanita Gupta, from DOJ's Civil Rights Division. (Gupta's signature is the first one on the actual complaint, so I'm sure she read it.) Said Gupta in a news release:

The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, including transgender Americans. Discrimination against employees because of their gender identity, gender transition, or because they do not conform to stereotypical notions about how men and women should act or appear violates Title VII.

What I find most perplexing about this situation is that Dr. Tudor began teaching at SOSU in 2004, and transitioned in 2007. So it's not like the school administration was caught off-guard when her application for tenure came in. And the idea that the corner office was just stewing in its collective Angry Juice for three years well, to borrow a proverb from days gone by, "Holding a grudge is like holding a hot coal and waiting for the chance to throw it at your enemy."

"Grudge" does seem to be the word, since actual students apparently liked her enough to file several online petitions on her behalf. Said one student:

I've personally had a class with this women. She is one of the best teachers I have ever had and had planned on taking more classes with her in the future. This campus is just teaching the students that it is not OK to be themselves.

And at least Dr. Tudor wasn't "breeding immature dependency upon the uber-State [as] a Cloward-Piven driven plantation management strategy," as happens in some better-known schools with higher price tags.

The Vent

  1 April 2015

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