Monday, February 10, 2014

When Professors Attack...Your Faith...

Almost every Catholic college students experiences it. You're in a lecture and your professor makes some claim that casts the Catholic Church in a bad light. I hear it often from students in courses on human sexuality or some such topic.

"The Catholic Church says rape is better than homosexuality."

"The Catholic Church is about to allow condoms to be used."

"The Church doesn't like to openly discuss sex."

What should a college student do?
  1. Stay calm
  2. Politely ask your professor for a reference citation. This can be done after class. You can even avoid the appearance of confrontation if you want, just go for general inquiry: "You said the Catholic Church is [insert crazy claim like "burning homosexuals in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday"], I'd like to learn more about that?"
  3. If your professor gives you a citation, investigate and look into things to see what might be distorted. In the case of one comment a student brought to me, I knew the professor was deliberately distorting St. Thomas Aquinas- even without the source.
    1. In this case, if you find discrepancies and outright errors, assume goodwill on your professor's part. Bring a citation that helps and corrects the misconception.
    2. If goodwill isn't present and error is clear, then you want to see what your resources are in your University- such as the evaluations, letters to deans, etc.
  4. If your professor does not have a source or even refuses to give you a source, then you have a couple options.
    1. If you wanted to protect your anonymity, you could wait for evaluations and make a comment like: "professor made disparaging/negative claims against an ethno-religious group and did not provide sources when asked"
    2. You could privately and politely ask the professor about why they are making blanket claims without reliable sources.
    3. You could go all 1960s on them and plan a protest. Though it might be good to talk to a faculty advisor/dean/advocate in that case JUST to make sure your academic future is covered.
The main thing to remember as a student is that you have rights. Just as your professors expect citations and sources, so should you expect it from them. Especially when making grand claims. Anything else is an abuse of their authority.