Columbia faculty firing sparks student protest

  • By Peter Sachs
  • Education reporter
  • October 16, 2008 @ 2:00 PM

A group of Columbia College students upset about the recent termination of a faculty member are planning a protest Friday morning in response.

Rob Kolodziej used several derogatory words in a class on workplace diversity and employment law, several students say. School officials investigated after at least one student complained about Kolodziej’s use of the words. 

Kolodziej's adjunct teaching contract with the school was severed last week. He remains employed at Columbia where he is a senior accountant in the controllers officer.

Many students say they weren’t offended by Kolodziej's remarks and that they were more upset to see him lose his job with little explanation from the administration.

“The school never informed us,” says Susan Garner, a freshman music business major. “The protest is, like, not only about how he got fired.”

Kolodziej’s teaching contract was terminated last week “due to allegations of the misuse of derogatory words,” according to a letter in support of Kolodziej that a group of students sent to several college administrators. He remains employed as an accountant in a school office, Garner said.

Kolodziej used the words as “shock value” to get the class’s attention about workplace diversity issues, the letter said, and weren’t aimed at anyone in particular.

Several administration officials did not return calls seeking comment and Kolodziej declined to comment.

Garner says she and other students have kept in touch with Kolodziej by e-mail.

“He said that he was really saddened by the whole thing,” Garner says.

The protest is planned for 9 a.m. Friday in front of the Columbia College building at 624 S. Michigan Ave.

Peter Sachs is a Chicago-based journalist. He covers higher education for the Daily News.