Adjunct in E-Mail Uproar Quits

With Warren County Community College's board poised to determine his fate, controversial instructor resigns.
November 23, 2005

John Daly -- an adjunct at Warren County Community College whose e-mail message to a student set off a national controversy -- resigned on Tuesday.

The New Jersey college's board was due to discuss Daly and his controversial e-mail Tuesday evening. But the institution's president, William Austin, issued a statement saying that Daly had quit late in the day, and that the board had accepted his resignation. Austin also said that "tolerance training" would be provided for faculty members.

The controversy over Daly arose from an e-mail message he sent to a student who was organizing a pro-war lecture. Daly's e-mail said that “real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors and fight for just causes and for people’s needs.” He also wrote to the student, head of the campus chapter of Young America’s Foundation, that “I will continue to expose your right-wing, anti-people politics until groups like yours won’t dare show their face on a college campus.”

In interviews conducted as conservative groups organized a campaign to have him fired, Daly stood by the substance of his e-mail. But he also said that he thought he was sending the e-mail to an organizer for Young America's Foundation, and that he did not realize that he was sending the e-mail to a student.

The student, Rebecca Beach, had sent e-mail messages to faculty members about her lecture. But Daly said that since she had sent her e-mail from a personal account, and he had replied from a personal account, there was no reason for the college to be involved. He also said in an interview on Sunday that he was not advocating a literal revolt by soldiers, and that he would have replied with a different tone had he realized he was communicating with a student.

Daly did not respond to phone or e-mail messages last night seeking comment on his resignation. Previously, he said that his critics were trying to silence his anti-war views.

In his statement announcing Daly's resignation, Austin called the First Amendment "the most precious freedom all Americans share," and said that he was "committed to working unceasingly" to protect the freedom of speech of students and faculty members at the college. But he said that he also had an obligation to enforce state laws and college policies "to ensure that all members of our college are free and encouraged to exercise their right to free speech without fear of intimidation or retaliation."

Austin went on to say that "the recent dispute between two members of our college community -- adjunct instructor John Daly and a student representing a new student club -- speaks clearly to the complexity of addressing these issues in these difficult and controversial times."


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