Thursday, June 01, 2006

Eyewitness Supports Klocek’s Charges Against DePaul University

Maybe there was a risk of paper cuts had Klocek really thrown pamphlets.
Eyewitness Supports Klocek’s Charges Against DePaul University

Deposition by Former DePaul Student Body President’s Challenges

Public Statements Made By University Officials

(June 1, 2006, Chicago) Yesterday, the deposition of Wesley Thompson, DePaul University student and former student body president, was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division. Statements made by Thompson, an eyewitness to the events, support Professor Thomas Klocek’s position, that his debate with students over conflicts in the Middle East did not justify DePaul’s suspension of him based on bad conduct. Thompson’s deposition contradicts public statements made by DePaul University officials.

According to DePaul’s president the Rev. Dennis H. Holdschneider in his letter published in the Rocky Mountain News (April 9, 2005):

“The incident involving Klocek is about inappropriate behavior directed at our students…we cannot maintain an academically free environment when students feel threatened…

“He (Klocek) raised his voice, threw pamphlets at students…

“As an adjunct professor who is hired on an as-needed basis each term, Klocek does not receive the same privileges as full-time tenured professors.”

In contrast, Thompson’s deposition that records his eyewitness account of what happened between Klocek and the Students for Justice in Palestine states:

Excerpts from Deposition

Question to Thompson: It was not what you would call a threat to hit anyone?

Thompson’s Response: “I didn’t feel that there was a threat of physical violence…”

Question to Thompson: Did you hear a conversation at a noise level that would be above what we would call normal conversational level?

Thompson’s Response: “…I can remember Salma (member of Students for Justice in Palestine) responding to something in sort of – not a loud voice, but when you get mad and you respond snappy, well, you know, something like that.”

Question to Thompson: So she raised her voice somewhat?

Thompson’s Response: But it wasn’t yelling or anything, but then I believe I remember Professor Klocek responded in kind…”

Question to Thompson: And he raised his voice to the same level?

Thompson’s Response: “Yes, He wasn’t yelling or anything.”

Question to Thompson: Did you observe anybody throw anything?

Thompson’s Response: “I did not.”

“It’s encouraging to see that what transpired between Professor Klocek and the students at the student activities fair outside the classroom was simply a heated debate. A common, non-threatening activity expected on most university campuses,” said Andy Norman, Klocek’s attorney with Mauck & Baker.

Background of Case:

A defamation suit was filed in Illinois’ Cook County Court in June 2005 charging that DePaul University and its leadership defamed Professor Thomas Klocek when DePaul publicly characterized arguments he presented to members of Palestinian and Muslim student groups as racist and bigoted. DePaul also accused Klocek of abusing his position as a professor to demean students. The suit seeks damages against DePaul for maligning Klocek’s integrity and professional competence. The defendants named include: DePaul University; Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, President of DePaul; and Susan Dumbleton, Dean of DePaul’s School for New Learning.

Complete deposition is available upon request.

For more information or to speak with those associated with Klocek’s side of the case, please contact: Tom Ciesielka at 312-422-1333.

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