A variety of postings on professors’ doors have triggered political discussions. Some have come across as racist and others have sparked curiosity on campus.
English Professor Desmond Kilkeary has several political cartoons posted on his office door that question President George W. Bush’s policies and advances on the war in Iraq.
Through his political cartoons and statistics of the fatalities, Kilkeary, who served in the U.S. Army between 1959-1962, intends to deliver a message to students about war, which he said he wasn’t told while growing up.
Kilkeary said he grew up with the notion that war is glorious. “There were many Hollywood movies glorifying war. I was exposed to nothing but glorified films of war that suggested you should go to war and assume you will survive,” he said. “They weren’t showing the evils and horrors of war, which we got to see in the training fields of the military.”
Kilkeary said most of the students enjoy reading what he posts on his door with the exception of a few who disagree with his points of view and have torn down some of the displays.
Also, some of his cartoons and statistics of fatalities have been stamped with bright red capital lettering reading “LIBERAL HATE,” like the cartoon that depicts a soldier coming back from Iraq and is being handed with a document that reads “Tour Extension.”
ESL professor Paul Mayer integrated Kilkeary’s ever-changing cartoons as part of
one of his lesson plans for his ESL classes.
According to Mayer, part of the process for teaching a second language involves studying the culture. Research has proven that the better a student understands the culture in which she or he is trying to join, the better they are at learning the language.
“A great way to do that is through cartoons,” Mayer said. So Mayer took his ESL class on a trip to take a look at Kilkeary’s door and disscus it. “Clearly professor Kilkeary has a definitive one-sided opinion about politics, so I try to balance it out by showing my students conservative cartoons.”
Last fall, English Professor Timothy Hanley posted a bumper sticker that raised eye-brows among faculty. In bold lettering, the sticker on his office door read, “I came back from Tijuana and found Jesus in my trunk.”
ESL Professor Richard Seltzer said thought it was offensive. “If I were Mexican-American I would have been very offended by this.”
Seltzer said that even though teachers have the right to free speech, they also have the responsibility as a role model to students to be objective and to present the information in a discrete manner.
Hanley did not want to comment on his displays.
One student, Lily Fitzpatrik, thinks they are interesting. “There is a lot of truth to [Hanley’s quotes] like the one that reads, ‘Support math illiteracy, buy a lottery ticket.’ They make you think twice so you go back and have a second look.”
Fitzpatrik doesn’t take any of Hanley’s quotes as racially offensively. “You just can’t judge or make presumptions about him for what he posts on his door; he’s just being witty.”
On the other hand there are teachers who display things on their door not so much to make political statements or still controversy, but for entertainment.
Black and white photographs of historical figures such as Albert Einstein and Frida Kahlo adorn the glass window of English Professor Denise Ezell. “I think they are interesting characters of history that students might like.”
Ezell posted the photographs figuring that could give students something to look at while standing around the hallway looking bored and waiting to get into class. “I’ve actually heard students when my door is closed and I’m here working. They’ll say ‘no, man, that’s Einstein’ and are trying to figure out who the people are so that’s kind of fun.”