After his third time being denied a teaching position in the University of Wisconsin System, former lecturer Kevin Barrett said last week he submitted a discrimination complaint against two UW System schools with the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission.
Barrett was heavily scrutinized in fall 2006 for his public affiliation with the belief that the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center were perpetrated by the U.S. military.
Several legislators including Rep. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, called then for Barrett's dismissal, fearing the conspiracy theories would be discussed in class.
UW-Madison Provost Pat Farrell reviewed Barrett's coursework and allowed him to keep his teaching position in 2006, while also asking him to "control" his enthusiasm for personal viewpoints.
Barrett was subsequently denied a position teaching a 300-level course in the UW English department, a job at UW-Whitewater for which no one was hired and also his old lecturer job teaching an introductory-level Islam course.
In an interview, he said UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater have discriminated against him on the basis of his political beliefs, also claiming a former dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at UW-Whitewater, Howard Ross, would witness on his behalf.
"He was part of the hiring process, and he let me know that I was discriminated against, and the only reason I wasn't hired was because of my political views," Barrett said.
In a copy of the complaint obtained by The Badger Herald, Barrett wrote that he is more qualified than one or more of the finalists, and that UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater have blacklisted him.
Uli Schamiloglu, acting chair of the UW Languages and Cultures of Asia department, said Barrett was one of four applicants for the Islam course position, and the candidate ultimately hired, Akile Zorlu-Durukan, is a charismatic teacher and has "very good qualities."
"There's no formula that says that, because [Barrett] has taught that course before, he would be the only person qualified to teach this course," he said.
According to Schamiloglu, Barrett's political views were not taken into consideration when the five-member hiring committee was reviewing the candidates. "The way the current person is going to teach the course is really no different than the way Kevin Barrett was originally chosen to teach the course," he added.
Despite Barrett's remarks, Cindy Wick, executive assistant for the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission's Department of Civil Rights, said there are currently no records of the former lecturer's complaint.
Even if the document is received, the department has no jurisdiction over the UW System, state government or other Dane county agencies. Instead, the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission deals with cases of discrimination in private companies, Wick said.
Barrett said he seeks either a job or monetary compensation for any teaching positions he was denied, though he has yet to contact lawyers to discuss the matter.
Both UW-Whitewater spokesperson Sara Kuhl and Ross were unavailable for comment as of press time.