On May 30, 2007, Insidehighered.com published another story about the radical professor Ward Churchill: it concerned the final disposition of his possible dismissal from the University of Colorado for plagiarism and for fabricating historical data. In the course of the subsequent comments by readers of the story, which were posted as an attachment to it, a former student at the university who had taken a course from Churchill offered the story printed below. The student (who posted as "Canary Slim") had asserted in a previous post that Churchill had both a law degree and was a Cherokee Indian. When it was proven to him by other commentators that neither was true, he was startled. With a new perspective, he noted other things that in retrospect something disturbed him about Churchill's behavior. And when questioned further on the blog he elaborated.
It appears that Ward Churchill assigned only books by himself in the course the student took (there were five books in all). He also required students to buy the books personally from him in his office (cash or check only, cash preferred, no credit cards allowed). This kind of economic exploitation of students by their professors is, unfortunately, not uncommon.
For obvious reasons, this is a practice officially frowned upon in most universities. What follows is
the student's testimony, summing up what he had learned in the comments section on Insidehighered.com:
Okay, I learned a lot from reading this board. Thanks Google for directing me
here. Thanks IHE for letting me read and post, even though I’m neither a
member nor a professor. Thanks everyone for your contributions.
So, in conclusion, this is what I learned. My former professor, Ward Churchill, is
neither a Cherokee Indian nor does he hold any kind of degree in law as I
previously assumed. Neither does he hold a degree in history although he
sometimes teaches it, nor does he hold any kind of degree in political science
even though he often more or less insinuates and encourages others to
undermine and subvert the authority of the state.
Even though he was the head of a major department at a major university and
commanding a very impressive annual salary, he only held a M.A. in
Communications from a small-scale community college and was all the while
pursuing a deluded world view of his own ethnic identity which seemingly bled
over into his skewed interpretations of history.
How bitterly ironic that the head of Ethnic Studies at CU was so falsely
representing his own ethnicity. Should I be laughing or crying? Maybe the whole
thing really is a joke.
Now that I know these things, I would definitely recommend that he be removed
of his position. I would recommend psychotherapy appointments for him as
well, and re-education in the subjects of law and history. Maybe if he reforms
himself he could re-attain a teaching position at the University of Colorado, or
maybe the Community College in Longmont.
Yes, Professor Eckstein, the story about him taking all of us down to his office
on the second or third day of class to pay in cash for all of the required reading
for the class, which were all books by him, is true. I should add that some
students were permitted to pay by check, but he wasn’t taking credit cards, or
course. It is possible that some of the books could have been acquired by other
means, i.e. book stores around town or possibly on the internet.
This episode, although mildly offensive to me, wasn’t so horrific that I was ready
to report him because if I wasn’t paying him, I would have had to pay the
bookstore or somebody else and actually it may have even been cheaper to go
directly through him. However, I did consider it to be a little bit suspect the way
he was selling them out of his office like some kind of illegal arms dealer or
something nefarious. It seemed pretty sleazy at the time.
What angered me about the incident was just the fact that all of the reading
material for the class was authored by him, so instead of studying the subject of
American Indian Studies it seemed like instead we were studying Ward Churchill.
I mean, I didn’t think he should have such a monopoly on the class content. And
the more I learn about his background, I am even further convinced of this."
The entire conversation can be found by going to Insidehighered.com, going to the "search" area, and typing in "Ward Churchill", then going to the May 30 story.