Stanford University fired a computer science lecturer Friday after he flaunted his drug use and told the nation's drug czar he wanted "to make fools" of those leading the war on drugs.
Senior lecturer Stuart Reges accused Stanford of bowing to political pressure from Bob Martinez, director of the office of national drug control policy, who complained about Reges in a letter to Stanford President Donald Kennedy last month.Reges, 32, had written Martinez in March, saying he often carried drugs in his backpack while on campus and criticized the federal anti-drug efforts.
Martinez responded by threatening to pull federal funding if Stanford kept teachers such as Reges on campus in violation of new federal rules that require anti-drug policies at schools.
"Stanford didn't care about what I was doing until they got a letter from Martinez," Reges said after he was fired. "I'm not entirely surprised by this, but it's clear they're doing this out of government pressure."
Reges, who had been at Stanford for nearly a dozen years but was not tenured, said he planned to fight his dismissal. He said he never taught while on drugs.
Stanford administrators say Reges was fired not for advocating drugs, but for carrying them in his backpack and for letting some underage students drink alcoholic beverages during a school outing.
"These violations of policy coupled with your refusal to undertake to observe the (anti-drug) policy in the future, in my view, constitute very serious professional misconduct," the engineering school dean, James Gibbons, wrote to Reges in his termination letter.
Reges said he let students drink alcohol on the recent school outing because they were at least 18 years old and making their own adult decisions. And he refuses to apologize for his drug use.
"This is just a matter of personal freedom as long as you aren't hurting anybody," Reges said.
Reges began publicly speaking about his recreational drug use last fall, telling the campus newspaper he favored an amphetamine derivative MDA, commonly known as Ecstasy.
Stanford administrators appeared to have ignored Reges until he wrote Martinez. But Associate Engineering Dean Ken Down said Friday that the university actually had started investigating Reges several months ago.
"We weren't bowing to pressure," Down said. "This just reflects a strong belief in the need for Stanford people to abide by university policy. It doesn't reflect on Reges' reputation as an outstanding teacher."
Reges' supporters believe the school administration especially wanted to please federal officials because Stanford is under investigation on an unrelated matter - allegations it overcharged the government up to $180 million for U.S. research during the 1980s.
Campus anti-drug rules were adopted last fall at Stanford after the government threatened to pull funds from schools that don't have anti-drug policies. Stanford got more than $120 million in federal funds last year, nearly 30 percent of its operating budget.
Under the regulations, teachers can be fired and students expelled or disciplined if they make, distribute, possess or use illegal drugs on campus.