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Economics Professor Sues Auburn University Over Retaliation

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An economics professor at Auburn University has filed a lawsuit against the school for retaliation and violation of his First Amendment rights after he questioned the number of Auburn athletes with public administration major.

The major, which was recommended for discontinuation by a faculty committee due to poor enrollment in 2013, saw a sudden surge of students in the same year. Professor Michael Stern questioned the clustering of athletes in a particular major and as a result, he lost his post as chair of the economics department in May.

Stern has alleged university of withholding his raises and reducing his bonuses.

“They have repeatedly committed to violating my First Amendment right and retaliated against me for speech I engage in as a citizen. They can’t tolerate that public institutional criticism. It’s repeated. It’s a long-term pattern. It’s very consistent behavior,” Stern told The Plainsman.

Stern further said that retaliation against him has increased under President Steven Leath after former President Jay Gogue left the office.

“Jay Gogue tried to protect me but was unable to anymore after he left office.So with him no longer as president, I have no confidence in this administration as they carry out these acts. It’s not just me. It’s others around the institution who are afraid to speak for fear of being retaliated against,” he said.

While the university has said it is yet served with the suit and is fully committed to free speech and discussion of ideas.

“The university has not been served with a lawsuit from Michael Stern,” a university spokesman told Opelika-Auburn News. “However, Auburn is fully committed to free speech, intellectual diversity and robust discussion of ideas.”

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