by Alexa Schwerha
A professor told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he was fired and banned from a small college in Texas because of complaints from students and colleagues regarding his conservative beliefs.
St. Philip’s College (SPC), located in San Antonio, Texas, as part of the Alamo College District, declined to renew political science professor Will Moravits’ contract on March 27 after a Title IX investigation was launched in February regarding a student complaint that he made disparaging comments about the LGBTQ community during class, according to a documents obtained by the DCNF. Moravits, who was scheduled to teach courses through the 2024 spring semester but has since been banned from campus, denied that he made any such comments, instead alleging that his termination was due to facilitating lectures on topics that the student found offensive.
“They made it very clear early on that I was not going to be reinstated under any circumstances,” Moravits told the DCNF. “That was not an option.”
‘I Know Them To Be False’
A student alleged that Moravits made multiple statements during an Introduction to Political Sciences class including that the “LGBTQIA+ community is riddled with pedophilia,” “the ‘p’ in LGBTQIA+ stands for pedophilia” and that “gay pride activists organize parades with 12-year-olds jerking off in them,” according to the notice of complaint sent to Moravits on Feb. 13 and provided to the DCNF. The complainant also alleged that Moravits, who is a former police officer, argued that police brutality is needed and that he “instigates discussion between students, especially those who agree with him” during classroom discussions on controversial topics that are “irrelevant to the class.”
Moravits was notified of his suspension on Feb. 9 before being fully informed of the complaint against him on Feb. 13, according to the obtained documents. He was not permitted on campus nor to have contact with individuals, including students, during the investigation, which he was informed on April 21 was closed — nearly a month after the school decided not to renew his contract on March 27.
Moravits, however, denies he made the alleged comments.
“The student’s frivolous complaint and Alamo’s punitive actions in response to it clearly targeted Dr. Moravits’ protected speech as a teacher in the classroom,” a legal letter sent to the college by attorney Michael Allen and obtained by the DCNF reads. “The student complaint arose in POSI 2304, Introduction to Political Science. In that class, Dr. Moravits did nothing more than ask students to engage all sides of controversial issues, such as police brutality and gender ideology. Many of his engagements with students in class discussion came in direct response to their questions.”
Moreover, three students in the course signed affidavits, obtained by the DCNF, that state they did not hear Moravits make the alleged statements. Moravits has also received several “excellent” teaching evaluations and received good reviews from students, according to the legal letter.
“I believe that if such unusual thing were said in GOVT 2304 that they would stand out in my mind, and I would have remembered them,” one student, who was also interviewed during the investigation, wrote. “If these things were said about Dr. Moravits, I do not know why any student would make these accusations, and if such accusations were made, I know them to be false as a direct participant in the class.”
Another student, who said they were African-American, confirmed in the affidavit that they “never felt uncomfortable,” “demeaned” or “offended” in the class, nor does the student recall other classmates being “uncomfortable.”
“Dr. Moravits always went out of his way to discuss with the class how different people viewed controversial issues, so that the class heard all sides of an issue. He then left it up to us to make up our own minds. Dr. Moravits himself would not take sides, and he would correct students if they misunderstood him. In my experience of class, which I thought was a very good class, Dr. Moravits was always fair and respectful to all students and showed respect for students’ ideas and opinions,” the student wrote. “This is exactly what I went to school for, to learn about these kinds of things.”
The third affidavit was not immediately provided to the DCNF.
No Determination Of Responsibility
Nevertheless, Moravits was informed on March 27 that his contract would not be renewed. The notice, obtained by the DCNF, did not list a specific reason for the decision but confirmed that his current contract as an Instructor and his paid administrative leave would end on May 13.
“You will remain on administrative leave and paid through May 13, 2023, which is the end date of your contract,” the notice reads. “While you are on administrative leave in April and through May 13, 2023, you are expected to be available by telephone or virtually (Zoom) during regular business hours in the event that work-related matters need to be discussed.”
Moravits was also not permitted on campus and ordered to have no contact with individuals, including students, according to the notice of suspension sent to him on Feb. 9 and shared with the DCNF. He attempted to retrieve his belongings from his office on May 17 but was escorted from campus by four police officers, according to an email outlining the incident he sent to the HR department, obtained by the DCNF.
“I was treated like a criminal,” he told the DCNF.
Moravits was notified on April 21 that the investigation was dropped “without any determination of responsibility” because of a written appeal he provided and because the case was considered closed, according to an email shared with the DCNF. Allen said that while at-will employees can be terminated without cause, the college cannot “violate their constitutional rights.”
“We think the timing and the fact that they immediately threw him off campus on the basis of false allegations that he had hurt someone’s feelings … obviously they weren’t getting what they wanted out of the investigation and wanted to fire him,” Allen told the DCNF. “They wanted to fire him from the get-go.”
Moravits believes that he was “terminated,” per the legal letter, because of his conservative beliefs. He provided two screenshots to the DCNF of text messages from Cynthia Pryor, SPC Social and Behavioral Sciences chairperson, to another SPC employee about him promoting his book, “The Blue Divide: Policing and Race in America“, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2022.
“Well, I was stunned to see that Moravits hawked his book at the CPAC convention. CPAC has become a racist organization that promotes ‘racial purity’ and supports authoritarians such as Viktor Orban in Hungary,” Pryor allegedly wrote. “Moravits seems to be associating with an anti-democratic group. That was surprising to me. He hid that part of his political philosophy quite well until he got the job.”
She then sent a second text sharing that she hopes the school could “push Moravits out.”
“I’m not opposed to open dialogue about competing ideas, but he was somewhat dishonest, and the views of CPAC threaten our democracy,” the text reads. “He needs to be vigorously challenged.”
The legal letter used the texts to showcase a “culmination of a long history of targeted attacks” on Moravits. The letter also referenced a complaint filed by colleagues regarding an interview he gave about his book which was done in his own capacity.
Moravits has lost approximately $24,000 due to the non-renewal, he told the DCNF. The school has declined to reinstate him to his position with full benefits and lost revenue as was requested in the April letter, meaning he will consider filing a lawsuit.
“What institution fires an employee who’s valued by the students? Basically it’s the HR department claiming that the students are customers in the academic industry at the moment and that they should be able to assert the right not to have their subjective feelings hurt, and yet they don’t care about the students who were valuing that education experience that was provided by Dr. Moravits,” Allen told the DCNF. “So what institution does that? They have affirmative evidence that this was a false allegation.”
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