I am a 22-year-old senior planning to graduate with a journalism degree and a political science minor from Metropolitan State College in Denver this May. This past semester I took a class called Latin American Politics taught by Dr. Oneida Meranto, a political science professor at Metro State. When I registered for Dr. Meranto’s class, I didn’t know what I was in for.
During the past semester Dr. Meranto has wrongfully dropped me from her class; threatened to throw a campus Republican group that I belonged to out of an academic student association; threatened to sue me for taping the public meeting where this incident occurred; threatened to sue the student newspaper for what I wrote about my experiences with her; illegally revealed my grades—and that of another student in her class—to the public; lied about those grades; filed a formal complaint with the college against me containing false information in an effort to punish me; asked for my removal from the school newspaper; and asked that the school not allow me to graduate with a minor in political science.
As a columnist at the campus newspaper, The Metropolitan, and one of the sole outspoken conservatives on campus, I had become used to harassment for my political beliefs. During this past year, fliers have appeared on campus calling me a “hatemonger” for my support of the war with Iraq and likening me to Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Numerous editorials in the two official campus papers attacked me personally.
However, nothing I experienced compares to Dr. Meranto’s assault.
I was kicked out of a journalism class about a year ago for telling a professor that her “liberal bias and political one-sidedness often gave me a headache.” But this turned out to be a mild abuse compared to Dr. Meranto’s attacks.
Perhaps I am responsible for having made these so personal. On Oct. 9, I wrote political science department chair Dr. Robert Hazan an e-mail letting him know that Meranto was continually 10 minutes late to my Latin American Politics class and expected students to stay after to make up for this lost time—even if they had other classes to attend. Dr. Hazan advised me to discuss this with Meranto. I wrote her an e-mail asking that she be on time, and moments later I received an e-mail from her telling me that she planned on “dropping” me from her Latin American Politics class.
Less than a month later, Meranto began her attacks on Auraria College Republican (ACR) Chairman George Culpepper by accusing him of being “unethical and unfair” when he was quoted in the school newspaper about the work the ACRs and another group on campus were doing to save the athletic program at Metro. Meranto believed that Culpepper was “unethical and unfair” because he neglected to mention that a campus group she advises, Native American Students for UnAmerican Activities, was also working to save the school’s athletic program even though Culpepper had no knowledge of their work and no right to speak on their behalf.
As a result of this confrontation, Meranto, who is also the faculty adviser for the nonpartisan Political Science Association (PSA), began making accusations at the PSA’s Nov. 3 meeting that Culpepper was working with the Independence Institute – a Golden, Colorado-based free-market think tank – and other outside groups. Meranto said that if this was indeed the case, then the Republicans needed to withdraw from PSA. All of these accusations were untrue; Culpepper had never even heard of the Independence Institute. After the PSA meeting, he asked me what that group was.
Up until this point, my interaction with Meranto had been limited to my complaint against her for dropping me from class nearly a month prior. After Meranto realized that I had openly tape recorded the above mentioned PSA meeting, she immediately began to threaten me with lawsuits and to threaten The Metropolitan with legal action if they ran anything I wrote about her in my weekly column. I later wrote a now-famous and extensive letter-to-the-editor in The Metropolitan on Meranto’s behavior and actions against conservative students. The piece, which was originally to be published as one of my columns, was instead published by The Metropolitan as a letter-to-the-editor because of Meranto’s legal threats against the paper.
In that piece, I outlined Meranto’s harassment and blatant disregard for conservatives and their viewpoints. I gave a chronology of a number of abuse, such as my being kicked out of her class, her demand that all Republicans withdraw from the nonpartisan Political Science Association (PSA), her attacks on Culpepper and a past comment about how she couldn’t stand the “white mindset” of many Americans. In the piece, I asked that she be terminated form her position
She immediately began to attack Culpepper and myself even further by releasing false personal information as well as personal e-mails, speculation about our grades, and by posting flyers around campus degrading us – much of this has been brought to the attention of the Department of Education as a probable violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
Despite the fact that both Culpepper and myself achieved a 3.0 GPA or higher, Meranto continually publicly announced that we weren’t good students and this, coupled with a visit by David Horowitz to campus and our “racist” and “sexist” beliefs, was the reason we were making complaints about her – she used the typical radical leftist approach of false character attacks to claim that we were the ones guilty of wrongdoing instead of using evidence to prove that she was innocent of the allegations made against her.
Last week, Dr. Percy Morehouse of the President’s Office informed me that Meranto had filed a formal complaint against me. The complaint accused me of violating a number of academic responsibilities as defined in the school’s Student Handbook, and of creating an environment of “hostility” that deterred her from teaching and hindered her students from learning.
At the same time Meranto filed her complaint, 16 students, 90 percent of which were in her Intro class last fall, filed a complaint against me stating that I had created a hostile learning environment—even though I wasn’t in a single class with any of these students.
Meranto’s first accusation against me in her complaint states that, “Students have the responsibility to initiate an investigation by contacting the department chair if they believe their academic rights have been violated.”
In her “rationale” of how I violated this responsibility she says, “On Oct. 9th, Nick went to [the chairman of the political science department Dr. Robert] Hazan, and properly stated that I could not drop him from class.”
It was Oct. 9 when I received the e-mail from Meranto informing me that she planned on “dropping” me from her Latin American Politics class. Dr. Hazan was the first person I spoke to after being “dropped” from Meranto’s class, as she states in her complaint – she proves her own complaint wrong within the complaint itself.
Her second accusation states that, “Students have the responsibility to learn the content of any course study.”
Her “rationale” for this complaint is based on the fact that I was enrolled in her course and didn’t finish it as I have the “responsibility” to do. She conveniently forgets that she forced me out of her class, making this impossible, and that I received a “B” by finishing the course with Hazan in the format of an independent study of Latin America.
This second complaint is very telling of Mernato’s theory of learning. She seems to be demanding that students be able to regurgitate the information she preaches to them, as opposed to learning about the subject the course is based around. The fact that I learned 40-research-pages worth of valuable and intellectually beneficial information about Latin America in half a semester matters not to Meranto, since it wasn’t the leftist blame-America-for-everything information she expected me to learn.
Her third complaint against me begins her assault on conservative free speech. She accuses me of academic dishonesty for publicizing her use-and-abuse-of-history teaching style and her utter disregard for the rights of her students in my column.
Resulting from my “academic dishonesty,” which only means that I offered a view she doesn’t take to be absolute truth, Meranto says, “In conclusion I am asking the judicial board to remove Nick Bahl from the editorial board of the Metropolitan Newspaper. In addition I believe he has lost the right to graduate with a minor in Political Science.”
The night prior to receiving this complaint, the sports editor of The Metropolitan told me that Meranto had filed a lawsuit against the paper as a result of my aforementioned column. I found this curious, but not unusual, and so I pursued it further.
I went to one of the advisors of the newspaper, Donnita Wong, and she told me that she had not heard about a lawsuit file by Meranto, but that she wouldn’t be surprised since she had advised Meranto to do so. Immediately, I wondered what on earth the newspaper’s advisor, a woman that’s supposed to be looking out for the well being of the paper, was doing advising an outside party to sue the very thing she is paid to maintain. The question was easily answered when Student Activities Director Zav Dadahboy informed me that Wong and Meranto were friends.
In the past few days, I have received anonymous, harassing e-mails from someone who has expressed familiarity with the course work I finished under my independent study program as well with my current class schedule this semester—information that is only available through the upper-administration of the school.
The e-mail includes such nuggets as "YOU KNOW S*** ABOUT LATIN AMERICA AND NOW EVEN LESS ABOUT BRAZIL. BECAUSE YOU SEE YOU'VE GOT THOSE BLINDERS ON AND YOU THINK ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS THROW OUT SOME DEAD WHITE MEN'S NAMES AND YOUR (sic.) COVERED.” The source’s e-mail address is titled, “luvtohategop,” and is signed, “Whites Against Racism.” How was this information acquired?
Meranto’s attack on my right to free speech had now taken two forms. She was directly asking for me to be removed from the newspaper, and now she was indirectly working through the advisors of the paper to take away the right to free press I have diligently and persistently worked to achieve at The Metropolitan over the past year. All of this is now combined with Meranto’s own admittedly wrong dismissal of me from her class (creating the very hostile learning environment she now accuses me of), with a barefaced denial of my academic rights.
Meranto will continue to steal the rights of her conservative students and degrade every student’s ability to learn and receive the education they are paying for as long as she is allowed to swim around the toilet bowl that Metro’s administration is letting her create of our college. We are searching for the handle that will resurrect our rights and our education, but the unwillingness of our administration to deal with this issue has forced me to publicize this series of events.
This kind of behavior on the part of a university professor and other members of a college’s administration should not be allowed to stand.