BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – A citizen, whose nephew attends Brevard Community College, reports that he brought home the below bookmark pledging to vote for President Obama. The bookmark and pledge was handed out during a mathematics class taught by Assistant Professor Sharon Sweet. This occurred “while the student was in class at the request of his College Algebra teacher, Sharon Sweet, from Brevard Community College in [Melbourne] Florida.”
On the tear away GOTTAVOTE.org pledge form that students recieved, was the requirement to “state their party affiliation”. The student reported that Sweet has repeatedly stated her personal political views in support of President Obama in class. The student noted, “There is an older gentleman in the class that will argue with her but he said most of the students did not.”
GOTTAVOTE.org is a site paid for by the Obama-Biden campaign to urge Floridians to register and vote. The website is targeted at young voters.
It appears Sweet may have violated the College’s harassment policy by handing out the GOTTA VOTE pledge. The Brevard Community College policy on harassment states:
Definition of Harassment
Harassment is any repeated or unwelcome verbal or physical abuse which intimidates or causes the recipient discomfort or humiliation or which interferes with the recipient’s educational or job performance. Any form of harassment related to an employee’s, applicant’s, student’s, or student applicant’s race, ethnicity, color, genetics, religion, national origin, age, gender, gender preference, physical or mental disability, marital status, veteran status, ancestry or political affiliation is a violation of this policy. [Emphasis added]
Brevard College policy states, “Any employee or student of this institution, who is found to have harassed another employee or student … will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination, suspension and or expulsion, within the provisions of applicable current College Procedures and Board rules.”
NOTE: According to the Brevard Community College staff directory, Sharon Sweet is an Assistant Professor in the Mathematics Department at the Melbourne Campus. A request for comment has been sent to Ms. Sweet and Ms. Darla Ferguson, Chief Equity & Diversity Officer for Brevard Community College.
The following was posted as a comment to this column:
Darla Ferguson forwarded your email to me. I am the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Learning Officer for the college. Thank you for referring your concern to us. The college does have specific procedures related to the political activity of faculty and staff. The expectation is that no employee of the College shall solicit support of any political candidate during regular work hours or on College property.
The college first learned of this concern on Thursday and an investigation was initiated. Any inappropriate activities will be curtailed and the faculty will be dealt with according to college policy.
Again, thank you for your concern. The college is taking appropriate actions. We do not want any student to feel coerced.
Linda Miedema, PhD, MSA, BSN
Vice President Academic Affairs
Chief Learning Officer
BCC Administrative Building, Viera