A perusal of the several dozen pre-controversy entries for Avery on RateMyProfessors.com suggests that the lawyer’s political activism doesn’t stop at the lecture hall door. Next to describing him as “arrogant,” “narcissistic,” and “condescending,” students most commonly noted his politicization of the classroom. One former student observed that Avery “had a huge liberal bias. That was fine with me, but don’t take him if you are at all conservative.” Another noted that Avery “definitely injects his opinions into every class. You feel a little awkward disagreeing with his stance on issues.” Other posters noted that he “hates Pres Bush” and that his “politics are somewhere to the left of Abbie Hoffman.”
The email that sparked Avery’s outburst asked for donations for care packages, which generally include minor luxury items such as candy, dipping tobacco, baby wipes, and other products valued by deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. The proximity to Veterans Day, and the presence of a Suffolk student serving in Afghanistan, prompted a staffer at the school to make the online solicitation on behalf a “Packages for the Troops” program.
The brouhaha quickly moved beyond the downtown Boston school. Local television news, talk radio, and area websites pounced on the campus controversy, forcing administrators to respond.
The school’s dean stated his intention to send a care package. Without naming Avery, the school’s acting president affirmed the institution’s support of the military—and free speech. “Suffolk University Law School has been a leader in creating pathways for law graduates to enter careers in the military, including officers in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps,” acting president Barry Brown posted on the school’s website.
“We respect the right of our faculty members to exercise academic freedom and support all members of our community in speaking freely and expressing their opinions,” Brown explained. “A consequence of this open dialogue is the articulation of many points of view. As a diverse community, no one opinion or perspective is representative of the views of the whole community.”
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