Compact Nation Podcast: Bonus Episode 1
Meet the Guest
Nancy Thomas is the director of the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University’s Tisch College and directs research on higher education’s role in American democracy, including the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE). She also currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Public Deliberation and senior associate with Everyday Democracy.
In this bonus episode of the Compact Nation Podcast, Andrew Seligsohn and Nancy Thomas discuss the Pompeo vs. Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico case. The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit came out on March 28, 2017.
The case involved a student — Pompeo — who enrolled in 2012 in an upper-division course at the University of New Mexico titled “Images of (Wo)men: From Icons to Iconoclasts.” The syllabus warned that students should expect controversy and “incendiary classroom discussions.” Students were required, as part of the course, to write critically and complete analytical papers. The professor assigned a film called “Desert Hearts”, about a lesbian romance and students were asked to write an analytic paper about it.
Pompeo’s paper included very graphic statements criticizing lesbians and lesbianism, but showed very little critique of the film in itself. The professor talked to her about it, and noted that many of the arguments she made had been made without any critical back-up. After their discussion, Pompeo returned to the class, but proved to be disruptive and disrespectful. Eventually, she left the class and the university, and sued the University of New Mexico on account of her First Amendment rights not having been respected.