Cal State Fullerton fires “disloyal” teacher

Photo of Wendy Gonaver by Mark Bolster of the L.A. TimesVery interesting story I stumbled on in the LAT today — a teacher who was offered a job at Cal State Fullerton to teach two introductory classes for American studies and Women’s studies had her offer withdrawn over her refusal to sign a loyalty oath.

A loyalty oath? What is this, the red-scare 50s? Actually, the oath does date back to that time.

The loyalty oath was added to the state Constitution by voters in 1952 to root out communists in public jobs. Now, 16 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main effect is to weed out religious believers, particularly Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

As a Quaker from Pennsylvania and a lifelong pacifist, Gonaver objected to the California oath as an infringement of her rights of free speech and religious freedom. She offered to sign the pledge if she could attach a brief statement expressing her views, a practice allowed by other state institutions. But Cal State Fullerton rejected her statement and insisted that she sign the oath if she wanted the job.

“I wanted it on record that I am a pacifist,” said Gonaver, 38. “I was really upset. I didn’t expect to be fired. I was so shocked that I had to do this.”

California State University officials say they were simply following the law and did not discriminate against Gonaver because all employees are required to sign the oath. Clara Potes-Fellow, a Cal State spokeswoman, said the university does not permit employees to submit personal statements with the oath.

“The position of the university is that her entire added material was against the law,” Potes-Fellow said.

Now, I know most know I lean conservative, but that doesn’t mean I’m blindly loyal to my country and I say this oath is a bunch of poppycock. I’m surprised that with all the repeated attempts to remove “In God We Trust” from our dollar bills and pennies that this hasn’t come up before. It also makes you wonder why all the other instructors and professors who have gotten hired haven’t raised a bigger stink about this oath before.

Some reaction from other blogs: The Cyber Hacienda, Volokh Conspiracy, and John Cole’s Balloon Juice.

Now, Cal State Fullerton is my alma mater and my husband’s too, and we have super fond memories of the place. But seriously, that oath is ridiculous and now I wonder about all the other professors I studied with and how they felt about signing such a document.

But this rant wouldn’t be complete without showing you the oath, provided by the LAT:

From the California Constitution:

“I, ______, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter.”

“I take this obligation freely”? I think not.

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