Brevard Community College in Florida revealed last week that it is seeking to fire a faculty member who apparently pressured students last year to vote for President Barack Obama in November's general elections.
The Brevard County, Florida college said that it contacted 85 students who took a mathematics class with associate professor Sharon Sweet last September, who has been granted leave following the investigation. Of those students, 43 responded to a written survey that revealed Sweet had used several tactics to try and guide the pupils into choosing Obama over Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the presidential elections.
"Professor Sweet strongly encouraged or mandated that students from several classes sign a card that stated, 'I pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket," Brevard's investigation, released on Friday, revealed.
"Sweet 'misrepresented her intentions to multiple students, indicating at various times that she was conducting voter registration for the college, that the pledge cards were nonpartisan voter registration forms, and that the pledge was a 'statistical analysis,'" the report continued, noting that the college's policy prohibits academics from imposing their personal political beliefs on students.
"The in-class voicing of her political views and actions regarding the distribution of political pledge cards created a hostile academic environment that violated college policy which governs workplace behavior. Professor Sweet's actions caused students to feel considerable discomfort, to believe their privacy was being invaded, to fear their grade could be negatively impacted if they refused to sign the pledge cards, and to feel intimidated."
Inside Higher Ed notes that a number of surveys have attested that the majority of America's professors are likely to be left-leaning and openly share their political views with students, but hard evidence that they are trying to directly influence votes has been hard to come by.
The college's report noted that the mathematics professor's actions "constitute harassment, incompetence, misconduct and unprofessional behavior in the workplace." It added that the findings would justify terminating Sweet's job. The associate professor, who has not yet responded to the charges, has 10 working days to provide a written response.
Brevard President James Richey has also called for Sweet to be fired, the Daily Caller revealed, but the Board of Trustees will decide the associate professor's fate at a later meeting. The report affirmed that Sweet would be allowed to attend the hearing and present her case before the board.