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Nicholas Damask, Scottsdale Community College

From April 2020 to April 2021
Scottsdale Community College (Public college or university)
Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Nicholas Damask
    Faculty/Staff
    Other

    Nicholas Damask is a resident faculty member at Scottsdale Community College.

Resources

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Classroom
    Other course-related event
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration not protective of speech
    University administration changes university policy as a consequence of event
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes

Summary

Nicholas Damask is a resident faculty member at Scottsdale Community College (SCC). In April 2020, he proctored a quiz for his World Politics class that included several questions about Islam. One of his students, Mohamed Sabra, took offense to the questions and posted them on Instagram, where they were then shared by Abdallah Jasim, a comedian with 125,000 followers. This touched off a wave of hate mail, much of it from outside the United States, accusing SCC of racism and calling for it to be shut down.

SCC President Christina Haines posted a message on social media calling the quiz content “inaccurate, inappropriate, and not reflective of the inclusive nature of the college…” She also asserted that the Damask would apologize for the quiz content. The school’s PR department drafted a letter of apology and pressured Damask to sign it, but he refused. Damask himself was subjected to death threats.

After the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent a letter to the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) on May 7, the Interim Chancellor Steven Gonzalez published an apology for SCC’s “rush to judgment” and announced the formation of a committee to “champion academic freedom education and training and to resolve academic freedom disputes.” Almost a year later, the MCCCD agreed to a $155,000 settlement with Damask in return for his agreement not to pursue a lawsuit or other claims against district personnel.