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Student threatened with probation for sending email questioning forced critical race theory training

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A dentistry student at the University of Iowa was threatened with probation for disagreeing with the school administration’s stance on President Trump’s executive order prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) as part of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

On October 16, students in the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa received an email criticizing Trump’s executive order on CRT. The college’s leadership said that it “strongly condemns Executive Order 13950, which prohibits trainings that are crucial to progressing toward a more equitable and just society.”

“Though we understand the importance of complying to avoid a potentially devastating impact on University of Iowa operations and funding, we stand unified against this order and its attack on people and free speech,” continued the email that all members of the dentistry department received. “The Executive Order undermines fundamental university values and practices.”

The executive order states that publicly-funded colleges that teach the “pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country” will be defunded.

Michael Brase, a sophomore at the College of Dentistry, replied to the email questioning what was wrong with the executive order.
Brase asked the authors of the email why they were willing to “support using federal funds to promote trainings that include race/sex stereotyping and/or race/sex scapegoating.” Brase also asked if it was right for the school to use “federal funds to promote trainings that teach that certain races/sexes are inherently or fundamentally oppressive, racist, sexist, etc.”

“If the COD does not support the items listed in the previous questions, then what specifically about Executive Order 13950 does the COD condemn?” Brase added.

The executive order, signed in September, asserts that CRT promotes “race or sex stereotyping,” thereby “ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of his or her race or sex.”

Several people replied to Brase, most of them criticizing his opinion. A faculty member, Dr. Steve Kelly, commended Brase for having “a lot of guts” to send the email but warned his reply would “result in a meeting of interested parties.” And it did.

On November 9, the Collegiate Academic and Professional Performance Committee (CAPP) sent Brase a letter demanding he attend a hearing for “unprofessional behavior involving the follow-up emails.” Regardless of being “offered other means to continue the conversation.” The letter said that the hearing would result in one of two outcomes; probation or dismissal.

When Brase asked if he could bring a lawyer or record the hearing, he was told that it was against CAPP policy. Understanding that he would not “get fair and unbiased treatment within the school,” he contacted conservative state legislators for help.

State Rep. Steve Holt spoke to University President Bruce Harreld and College of Dentistry Dean David Johnsen to plead Brase’s case. After the meeting, Brase received a letter from Johnsen notifying him that the hearing was canceled.

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