Denver: Assignment to write about Palin triggers complaint |

Denver: Assignment to write about Palin triggers complaint

Dan Elliott
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Metropolitan State College is looking into a student’s complaint about an instructor who assigned a class to write an essay contradicting the Republican Party’s “fairy tale image” of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

College spokeswoman Cathy Lucas said Friday the student complained of feeling harassed and bullied by the assignment from part-time English instructor Andrew Hallam.

The student, Jana Barber, told KCNC-TV in Denver she was shocked by the assignment. She said it seemed like “an open door for him to discuss politics with us.”

No listed phone number could be found for Hallam or Barber.

Hallam made the assignment on Sept. 11 in an entry-level composition class. He told college administrators he wanted a topic that would be relevant, engage the students and require them to use critical thinking skills, Lucas said.

Hallam later broadened the assignment to allow students to write about other candidates, Lucas said.

Lucas said administrators will speak with Barber next week and then interview any classmates Barber refers them to or who come forward.

Lucas said Barber is the only student who spoke to administrators about the assignment, although at least one other student has been publicly quoted objecting to it.

She said Hallam will continue teaching while the investigation is under way. The college will consider “corrective action” if it determines he violated students’ rights, she said.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it’s a thorough but quick process,” she said.

Hallam teaches two entry-level composition classes at the college and is in his first semester as an instructor, Lucas said. She knew of no previous complaints against him.

Lucas said administrators learned about the assignment after it was reported on the conservative blog on Monday, four days after Hallam made the assignment.

She said administrators spoke to Hallam on Tuesday, and he told them he had already decided to broaden the assignment after thinking about it over the weekend.

Lucas said Barber lodged her complaint on Thursday.

Metro State has 21,000 students. Its campus is in downtown Denver.

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