A University Of Texas At San Antonio associate professor who improperly used State computers for political and commercial purposes has apologized for his actions, sort of. Following an exposé, which appeared in the San Antonio Lightning on August 22nd, the official website of Neal Richard Wagner, assistant chair of UTSA Computer Sciences, was purged of dozens of pages because of political and commercial content.
UTSA rules and regulations ban employees from using State facilitities and UTSA's name to further such ventures.
While an individual may feel that identification with UTSA will add weight to his or her views on a subject of personal concern, the involvement of the University by individuals in a variety of public issues is not in the best interest of the University or its employees and is, in fact, prohibited by the UT System Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations.
Wagner violated those prohibitions, and others, by actively boosting hundreds of links to other websites promoting anti-Bush, pro-communist, and pro-revolutionary agendas. He also advertised t-shirts and novelties for sale. He endorsed political candidates.
Wagner also devoted at least 20 of those State paid links to his son, John Wagner.
John goes by the self-styled name of "Communist John" and has a separate website which advocates communist and marxist ideals, to which his father's UTSA site linked.
If that name, John Wagner, sounds familiar, you may remember him from his role with the local Express-News as a contributing writer and a member of the Express-News Teen Advisory Board in 2000.
Neal Wagner's UTSA hosted webpages also solicited sales from and contributions to political organizations.
* * *
The website in question was modified after the Lightning brought its contents to the attention of David Gabler, UTSA VP of Communications.
"The web pages ... will be removed immediately," Gabler told the Lightning. He agreed that they were a violation of University rules and regs.
"We are looking into this," Gabler promised.
Indeed, within half an hour, those pages had been expunged, though the Lightning has made "mirrors" of many of them so that their true nature can be documented, and not disputed.
* * *
Associate Professor Wagner has been unavailable for comment, but did issue an apology on his campus website following the Lightning's revelations.
Wagner's remarks are reproduced below:
Special Note: Until recently, this site contained a few humorous and satirical links. I agree that the University of Texas facilities should only be used for official or professional business, and I have removed these links. My intent was only to amuse my students and capture their interest, and I apologize to anyone who was offended.
Let's dissect that statement, which was issued on Friday. Editorial comments are in blue.
Special Note: Until recently, (Friday) this site contained a few (1200 plus) humorous and satirical links. (No mention of political or commercial links) I agree that the University of Texas facilities should only be used for official or professional business, and I have removed these links. (In fact, the University has removed those links) My intent was only to amuse my students and capture their interest, and I apologize to anyone who was offended. (Amuse or persuade?)
The so called apology doesn't end this inquiry. The words are too thin, and are obviously intended to minimize the offense. Many questions remain.
And surely a man of Professor Wagner's education does not consider more than a thousand links to qualify as a "few."
No one questions Wagner's right to free expression. That is not the issue here. What is under scrutiny is Wagner's flagrant and illegal use of State funds and facilities to build his digital soapbox.
If the wise scholar wishes to compare the President to Hitler, or claim that Bush is the "Anti-Christ," or extol the virtues of Marxism and Hillary Clinton, then he is certainly free to do so. The US Constitution which he seems so venemously to dislike guarantees that to him.
But he has no right to do this propagandizing using public money and facilities. He has no right to do it in the name of UTSA. That is wrong. In fact, it is against the law and a serious abuse of the trust that he holds.
How the study of computer science is furthered by political views is lost on this writer. Wagner was hired to teach about computers, not political ideology. He certainly was NOT hired to hawk political t-shirts and boxer shorts on University time and equipment.
UTSA officials must take a strong stand against such abuse, or they will have to answer for their lack of control.
Their actions, or lack thereof, will be scrutinized. We shall see what we shall see.
This outrageous activity at taxpayer expense in unacceptable. It simply does not compute.