ACLU challenges banning of professor
A judge could lift UH's suppression of any campus contact
The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking an "emergency order" to allow a tenured University of Hawaii at Manoa professor to return to campus.
The hearing is scheduled in federal court Monday at 3 p.m. in front of Chief Judge Helen Gillmor.
Last month, interim UH chancellor Denise Konan wrote a letter to Michael D'Andrea informing him that he was banned from coming to campus because of "alleged intimidating, hostile and bullying behavior."
The ACLU said D'Andrea was also banned from having contact with all faculty members, staff and current or former students.
D'Andrea, a member of the Department of Counselor Education, was ordered to work at home, with pay, and told that his classes and student advising would be covered by other faculty.
In a news release, ACLU officials and attorney Eric Seitz said the directive was "blatantly unconstitutional" and limited D'Andrea's right to free speech and association.
"It is the scope and breadth of the bans that raise constitutional concerns," said Lois K. Perrin, ACLU of Hawaii's legal director.
Seitz added that "it is an unfortunate day when the university attempts to restrict the free speech and assembly rights of its faculty. Universities are supposed to encourage debate -- not limit and deter it."
In a written statement, UH spokesman Gregg Takayama said, "The university is committed to and has a contractual obligation to provide a safe and healthy working and learning environment for its faculty, staff and students. Furthermore, we try to foster a climate of collegial respect and trust to support our educational mission."
Takayama said because of privacy issues, the university can't discuss the details of the case.
Seitz said D'Andrea has been a "thorn in their (the administration's) side for quite a while," protesting against a Navy research center on campus and against the war in Iraq.
"He's an active kind of guy," Seitz said, adding that D'Andrea also believes there is institutionalized racism at the university. Seitz said the allegations against D'Andrea are "really benign."
He added, "There's no hearing, no disposition. They're not that big a deal. Out of the blue, he's banned from campus and can't talk to anyone. It's like hitting a nail with a sledgehammer."