The University's Equal Opportunity Office found that a former Arabic professor had discriminated against students, but University President Michael Adams found otherwise, according to an appeal of the case.
In December 2011, Adams found Haider Bhuiyan, who left the University that same month, had not violated the Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy.
"Having reviewed the materials submitted, I am overturning the decision of the NDAH officer as to the violation of the NDAH policy by Dr. Bhuiyan," Adams wrote in a Dec. 22, 2011 letter to Bhuiyan. "However, while I find no violation of the NDAH policy, I am directing that a letter be placed in your personnel file stating that all classroom discussions must be conducted respectfully to all."
In Adams' letter, he summarized the evidence gathered by the EOO but came to a different conclusion.
Adams did not overturn the other part of the EOO decision. The investigation found that Bhuiyan was not hired for a lecturer position because there were other better-qualified candidates, rather than because of religious discrimination against Bhuiyan. Adams upheld this decision.
Bhuiyan taught Arabic and Islam at the University from 2007 to 2011.
He was involved in two Equal Opportunity investigations during his time at the University. The first, in December 2010, investigated allegations that Bhuiyan made inappropriate comments during class about religion and sexual orientation. In that investigation, E. Janyce Dawkins, associate director of the EOO at the time — now interim director — found that Bhuiyan had not violated the University's Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy.
In May 2011, another Equal Opportunity investigation examined Bhuiyan's complaint that two other Arabic professors, Alan Godlas and Kenneth Honerkamp, had discriminated against Bhuiyan when he was not rehired as a lecturer. This time, Dawkins found the other professors had not discriminated against Bhuiyan, but that Bhuiyan had discriminated against students the previous summer.
Bhuiyan appealed the decision that he had violated the NDAH policy by discriminating against students.
"When the president receives any appeal … the president will review the entire file as presented, primarily to review to ensure that person appealing was afforded a fair opportunity of due process, whether there were any procedural errors and whether or not the sanctions are appropriate," wrote Matthew Winston, assistant to the president, in an email to the Red & Black.
Dawkins said she could not comment on specific cases.
In any appeal, the president can examine new evidence and seek advice from legal sources and University faculty and staff, Winston said, but he could not comment on what led Adams to his decision in this specific case.
When the Red & Black began reporting on this case in January 2012, it obtained the findings letters from the EOO investigations in an open records request. Since Adams' letter overturning the decision — originally described to the Red & Black by Bhuiyan as a recommendation letter — was not written by the EOO, it was not included.
"It wasn't requested in the first place," said Tom Jackson, vice president of public affairs. "We didn't withhold it."
Mitch Clayton, open records manager for the University's Office of Public Affairs, said he asked the president's office in January about a recommendation letter, but was informed Adams did not write a recommendation on behalf of Bhuiyan.
"Since the letter in question was from the Office of the President and was determined to not be a letter of recommendation, it was not included," Clayton wrote in an email to the Red & Black.
When the Red & Black described the letter more specifically in another open records request in March, the Office of Public Affairs was able to provide it.