UPDATE: This article was updated on July 26 at 2:12 p.m. to include comments from College Republicans club president emeritus Chris Boyle and ASI President Laila Dadabhoy.
Anthropology lecturer Eric Canin will return to teach at Cal State Fullerton this fall after Arbitrator Jan Stiglitz concluded that his actions during an altercation that occurred Feb. 8 warranted a two-month suspension.
Canin was put on paid leave after the university’s internal investigation concluded that “a campus employee struck a student and that as a consequence, the speech of the student group was stopped.”
The university will consider two months of Canin’s paid leave last semester following the incident toward fulfilling the two-month suspension if he reimburses what he was paid during that time, said CSUF Chief Communications Officer Jeffrey Cook in an email.
“In his decision, Arbitrator Stiglitz agreed with the University’s factual conclusions regarding Dr. Canin’s misconduct, finding that ‘based on the sworn testimony of the percipient witnesses, I do conclude that Dr. Canin attempted to grab a sign’ being held by a student and ‘I also conclude that Dr. Canin did at some point, in some way, use his hand to make physical contact’ with a student’s face,” Cook said in an email.
Canin was served a notice of termination following the conclusion of the internal investigation, Cook said in an email. The decision was appealed in accordance with the California State University system’s collective bargaining agreement with the California Faculty Association.
This appeal led to the case being assigned to Stiglitz as a means of settling the dispute.
“Arbitrator Stiglitz then focused on Canin’s ‘intentions’ to opine that ‘there was a momentary but most unfortunate and inappropriate loss of control’ and while ‘(Canin’s) actions did, in a limited way, interfere with the rights of the College Republicans,’ that since he has worked at the campus for 20 years without incident the disciplinary penalty for his conduct should be a two-month suspension instead of termination,” Cook said in an email.
CFA Fullerton faculty rights chair Tyler McMillen said in a text that he feels it is good for teachers to have the right to defend themselves.
“This is an important achievement that we were able to reverse the dismissal. It is important not only (to) our colleague Dr. Canin, and CSUF faculty and students, but it has national importance,” McMillen said. “There is a national campaign attempting to silence leftist professors, which itself is part of a broader push to suppress dissent. It is crucial that we stand strong against these attacks.”
According to the official CSUF Response to Arbitration Outcome for Eric Canin, the sanction imposed is “final and binding.”
Cook said in an email that Canin indicated his intent to return to CSUF in the fall at a CSU Board of Trustees meeting on July 18.
“While I don’t think the suspension is justified, I am happy to get back to teaching,” Canin said in a text. “The university is a place for free and open evidence-based dialogue, but hatred and incitement, for instance by deploying racial memes, is not conducive to dialogue of any sort.”
Canin said he has been tentatively scheduled to teach classes as he works out details with the Anthropology department and the university. He said he hopes everything will be set up by the time the semester begins.
“I look forward to returning to the CSUF community to which I have dedicated the last 20 years of my life,” Canin said in a text.
College Republicans club president emeritus Chris Boyle said in a text Thursday that Eric Canin returning to campus in light of the altercation sends a message that it is “okay to attack conservative students.”
“We feel that it’s a grave injustice that (a) violent professor who attacked a student for exercising free speech would be allowed to return to campus,” Boyle said in a text. “Our club will continue to fight this action.”
According to Boyle, the club will primarily be doing two things to respond to Canin’s return in the fall. He said in a text that they will be reaching out to Associated Students Inc. (ASI) and campaigning to raise awareness of the professor’s presence on campus and the “possible threat” he presents to students.
“Though (ASI has) shown extreme bias in the past, it is (their) job to stand up for the students,” Boyle said in a text.
ASI President Laila Dadabhoy said that Chief Campus Relations Officer Kelly Zarate will work with on-campus clubs to address their concerns as a resource over the upcoming year.
“I would like to clarify that ASI has no jurisdiction over what happens on the university side,” Dadabhoy said. “We are more than happy to communicate with Dr. Garcia and other faculty and staff when there are concerns that the students have in regards to events like this. But other than that, ASI is truly student-run and student-focused.”
Dadabhoy said she is planning on bringing up concerns related to Eric Canin at a meeting with the university’s student affairs department before the school year begins, after which she will be “more than happy” to connect with students on the matter.
“That being said, we have heard Chris Boyle’s concerns in the past, and I personally will pay special care to make sure that every group on campus feels comfortable coming to me or coming to anyone in ASI to have their concerns addressed,” Dadabhoy said.