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Ed. Note: The following are selections from an article about Paul Fallavollita that recently appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Educatio. We cannot link to the entire article because CHE offers subscriber-only access.

Daily report from the Chronicle of Higher Education,


Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Purdue U. Political-Science Department Grapples With What to Do About Neo-Nazi Graduate Student


Paul Fallavollita seems like a typical graduate student. He teaches a discussion section, "Introduction to International Relations"; is pursuing a Ph.D. in political science; and generally strikes professors in his department, at Purdue University at West Lafayette, as bright and mild-mannered.

[ ... ]

In "A Report From the Academic Gulag," a recent posting on the Vanguard News Network, a right-wing Web site, Mr. Fallavollita wrote that a member of the faculty recently confronted him about his writings and told him that they were "disturbing." Following that meeting -- which was confirmed by two faculty members at Purdue -- the university's administration apparently became aware of the situation. Sources said that Alysa C. Rollock, Purdue's vice president for human relations, met with members of the department on September 28 and urged them not to do anything that might infringe on Mr. Fallavollita's right to get an education. (One professor says that he has since taken out a professional-liability insurance policy in case of a lawsuit.)

[ ... ]

The picture of Mr. Fallavollita that emerges in his writings is far different from his rather traditional academic profile. Mr. Fallavollita, 24, graduated in 1999 from Loyola University in New Orleans, where he majored in political science and philosophy. According to an article in the spring 1999 issue of the Writing Across America newsletter, Mr. Fallavollita was a writing tutor and a senior resident assistant at Loyola. He also enjoyed rock climbing, the article noted. He earned his M.A. in political science from Purdue last year.

Mr. Fallavollita did not return telephone messages left by The Chronicle or respond to requests for interviews sent to two e-mail accounts. But in his posting on the Vanguard News Network, Mr. Fallavollita defended his right to his beliefs:

"My position on the issue is that my political beliefs are my business, and what I do on the Internet is my business as well. The purposes toward which I seek to put my education are not for anyone to judge; the university provides a service and I am a customer. I treat the people I meet each day with respect, regardless of my political beliefs."

He concludes: "I am an Internet columnist, and a White American nationalist. I am a Ph.D. student, and a professor-to-be. Stand aside."

[ ... ]

While no faculty member contacted by The Chronicle said the university should take any sort of action against Mr. Fallavollita, some of them said they believe Purdue is not doing enough to answer their concerns about their safety, especially because the National Alliance has been tied to violence. The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center report that in the last several years, dozens of violent crimes, including murders, bombings, and robberies, have been linked to National Alliance members or to people apparently inspired by the group's propaganda. At least one member of the department said that Mr. Fallavollita's description on the Vanguard News Network site of his meeting with a professor was "threatening."

[ ... ]

But members of groups that monitor hate-group activity are not surprised to learn that a young scholar has ties to the National Alliance.

"He sounds like exactly the person that the group would want as a member, because it is interested most of all in attracting educated, middle-class members," says Marilyn Mayo, associate director of the national fact-finding department of the Anti-Defamation League. "The National Alliance has stated that it wants a cadre of intelligent people who are motivated enough and articulate enough to spread its ideology to create the kind of society they want."

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