December 25, 2008

University attack on student made into documentary

Forced to defend himself for reading a book

The case involving a student at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis who was forced to defend himself on racial harassment charges for reading a history book now has been turned into a documentary.

WND reported earlier on the case involving Keith John Sampson, who was reprimanded and threatened by the university for reading a history book about the defeat of the Ku Klux Klan by Notre Dame students in a 1924 street brawl.

He had read the book in a break room at the university where he studies and works as a janitor, according to reports from officials with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, who have argued on Sampson's behalf.

Now FIRE has announced filmmaker Andrew Marcus has produced a short documentary in the hopes of restoring Sampson's reputation that IUPUI "sought to destroy" and bringing to light the incidents of censorship that are all too common on college campuses today.


Featured in the documentary are Sampson, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, and FIRE Jackson Legal Fellow Azhar Majeed.

The video is at this link.

It's also embedded here:

FIRE called the situation one of its "most shocking cases in 2008."

The offending action on Sampson's part was to be caught reading "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan" during his work breaks, the group said.

The story "is still disturbing months later," even though the finding against Sampson was overturned and his school record cleared.

"Sampson's ordeal began in November 2007, when he was notified by Lillian Charleston of IUPUI's Affirmative Action Office that two co-workers had filed a racial harassment complaint against him," FIRE reported.

"The office alleged that by reading a book about the KKK in the break room, Sampson had engaged in racial harassment. Sampson attempted to explain that the book was a historical account of a 1924 incident in which a group of University of Notre Dame students fought in the streets with members of the Ku Klux Klan. (Indeed, the book celebrates the defeat of Klan.) This explanation was ignored, and he later received a letter from Charleston stating that he was guilty of racial harassment for 'openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject,'" the group said.

Six months later, IUPUI declared that Keith John Sampson's record was clear and said it would re-examine its affirmative action procedures relating to internal complaints.

But in the face of media scrutiny the school's director of media relations, Richard Schneider, claimed to "The Wall Street Journal" Sampson actually was punished for some other behavior, although he refused to reveal any details of the alleged conduct.

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