They Fired Him
Officials at Palm Beach Atlantic University fired Prof. Sam Joeckel for his racial justice teaching
This is a sad and infuriating post, but it exposes an issue we need to know about. If you find this kind of work illuminating, please consider becoming a paid subscriber today.
A few weeks ago I was tagged in a post by Professor Samuel Joeckel of Palm Beach Atlantic University.
In that post he recounted how administrators from his school waited for him outside his classroom one day, and told him that his contract renewal was being paused until they could review his teachings about racial justice.
Read the original post below.
I interviewed Professor Joeckel, and you can see his remarks about the original incident.
The leaders of PBAU reviewed Prof. Joeckel’s teachings, but they were especially incensed that he exposed their inquiry to the public.
In what seems like an act of retribution, and certainly a chilling statement on the status of academic freedom and scholarly practice, the leaders of Palm Beach Atlantic University chose not to renew Professor Joeckel’s contract.
Now he’s out of a job.
In his words, “They did this for a clear reason: my decision to teach and speak about racial justice.”
I’ve interacted with Professor Joeckel several times. He seems like a gentle, humble, godly man. He has a family and now faces an uncertain future about how to provide for them.
Nevertheless, he has decided not to let the university’s actions go unchallenged.
In his latest post Professor Joeckel wrote, “Because PBA took these actions, I will have no choice but to pursue my legal options to fight back and show PBA, and other institutions, that they cannot get away with this.”
A lawsuit may provide the necessary accountability to address how leaders at PBA failed their own professor.
Leaders the university demonstrate a lack of courage. They are more fearful of being called “woke” than defending a faculty member who has worked their for twenty years.
They seem more concerned with money from donors and appearing appropriately conservative than teaching their students how to honor the image of God in people of every tribe, tongue, and nation.
What is happening at Palm Beach Atlantic University is a public display of what is happening or could happen at many other Christian colleges and universities (e.g. Hillsdale College, Grove City College, and more).
The weaponization of terms such as “Critical Race Theory” and “woke” demonstrate that the Culture Wars are not mere ideological battles, instead they have real-world casualties in their insatiable and ungodly quest for power.
I lament that Professor Joeckel has to endure this betrayal from his institution. And the loss will be acutely felt among his fellow faculty members and the students.
I can only imagine what it is to be a young adult exploring the garden of ideas only to have a massive road block erected to impede you from studying anything about race.
These cowardly actions erode the fiduciary trust that should exist between college leaders and the student body.
I hope the students protest, create more petitions, take up microphones and megaphones to make their voices heard.
I hope prospective parents and students look very carefully at what happened to Professor Joeckel and think deeply about how committed the university’s leadership is to the full flourishing of their students.
Most of all, I hope the Black students there have strong community and support systems. The loss of a professor because he taught a racial justice unit and then went public when he came under scrutiny sends a clear signal that Black students and their concerns do not matter at the university.
Palm Beach Atlantic University and its leaders have chosen the side of compromise and complicity with racism. But through his choice to courageously confront racism, Professor Joeckel may be teaching his greatest lesson of all.
I just sent the following message to PBA:
I have been following the story of your professor Sam Joeckel and learned this morning he was fired. I know there is a lot of fear and pressure politically and financially. As one imperfect person trying to follow Jesus to another, please know as Dr. King said “ the time is always right to do what is right”. Be encouraged it is never too late to start doing the right thing and as you know our God is bigger than any political pressure or intimidation or fear or suffering - I pray God gives your leadership wisdom and conviction and then the needed courage and humility to rehire him and do the right thing. It is never too late and it urgently matters.
Heartbreaking, frustrating, and infuriating. CRT and critical thinking about the United States and our history, systems, etc. just continues to expose white fragility.