Some professors have turned to Twitter as their platform to take their lecturing out of the classroom and onto the Internet to reach a wider audience.
However, pontificating in 140 characters or less has had disastrous repercussions for some academics who took things a bit too far in their posts – ranging from intense media coverage of their social media conduct to losing their job.
Here are the top eight worst tweets from professors – just in the last year alone:
8. ‘No good white people’
A Rutgers University scholar recently declared: “until the entire system changes there are no good white people. There are only less bad white people” to his more than 500 followers.
Kevin Allred, a self-described queer
“[W]hiteness plays an invisible role in dominating and oppressing everyone else. And I’m speaking about a U.S. context specifically here,” said Allred, who is currently teaching a summer course at Rutgers called “Politicizing Beyoncé.”
7. ‘Deal with your white sh*t, white people’
Saida Grundy, an incoming assistant professor of sociology and African-American Studies at Boston University, caused outrage after she posted tweets about race, white males and slavery. SoCawlege.com first broke the story about Grundy’s twitter comments, and sparked a firestorm that resulted with many calling for her to be fired.
Grundy’s series of Tweets in April declared:
for the record, NO race outside of europeans had a system that made slavery a *personhood* instead of temporary condition
there is also no race except europeans who kidnapped and transported human beings in order to enslave them and their offspring for life
before europeans invented it as such, slavery was not a condition that was defacto inherited from parent to child
in other words, deal with your white sh*t, white people. slavery is a *YALL* thing.
Since the uproar over her comments, Grundy has stood by her tweets.
“I regret that my personal passion about issues surrounding these events led me to speak about them indelicately,” Grundy said in a statement to the Boston Globe, but racial issues “are uncomfortable for all of us, and, yet, the events we now witness with regularity in our nation tell us that we can no longer circumvent the problems of difference with strategies of silence.”
6. Whiteness = Terror
Professor Zandria Robinson, formerly a sociology professor at the University of Memphis, posted a tweet on June 26 in which she equated “whiteness” with “terror.”
After the story broke, the university tweeted that she was no longer under their employment. She has since been hired at Rhodes College, where the college feels that her hiring demonstrates that “intellectual engagement and the exchange of ideas are among our highest priorities,” according to a statement issued to a local CBS affiliate.
Robinson, by the way, has a history of extreme posts on social media.
5. ‘Zionists are partly responsible for antisemitic sh*t’
One professor’s anti-Israel tweets were so bad, he lost a job offer over them.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign rescinded a job offer to Professor Steven Salaita following a series of tweets about Israel in July of 2014.
Here’s a sampling of his tweets:
“At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza.” … “Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just fucking own it already.”
The College Fix reported Salaita had already resigned from his previous job at Virginia Tech to accept the position as a professor of American Indian studies at Illinois for the 2014-15 school year, but the university’s board of trustees decided to block his appointment following Salaita’s twitter comments.
The university’s decision to rescind Salaita’s job offer sparked a controversy in the academic community.
“I know of no other senior faculty member tweeting such venomous statements — and certainly not in such an obsessively driven way,” Illinois English Professor Cary Nelson said in support of the university’s decision during an interview with Inside Higher Ed.
“Faculty comments made on social media, including Twitter, are largely extramural statements of personal views that should be protected by academic freedom,” President of the American Association of University Presidents Rudy Fichtenbaum said in a statement. “Whether one finds these views attractive or repulsive is irrelevant to the right of a faculty member to express them.”
The American University in Beirut has since hired Salaita.
4. Set-up by the Right-Wing Twitterati
Humanities Professor Adam Kotsko of Shimer College in Chicago tweeted out to his followers that all white people “have benefited from slavery,” and should “commit mass suicide.”
After the fallout from his tweets, Kotsko took to the social media platform to clear up any confusion over his words and issued an apology. However, Kotsko claimed zero responsibility for his conduct on his blog, and said “the crack investigative reporters of the right” set him up.
“Why did I say it, then? I was in dialogue with an obviously bad-faith interlocutor on the subject of race, who clearly wanted to bait me into saying something ‘offensive,’ and out of frustration, I decided I’d give them something to cry about and say something really ‘offensive’ — scare quotes intended,” Kotsko said.
3. #YesAllWomen Should Control Men
University of Maryland Professor of Women’s Studies Ashwini Tambe is just one of the many professors that have been caught using Twitter as a soapbox. Although her account is not as active, her comments have caused a similar amount of outcry.
In the past year, she’s had a whole slew of controversial tweets, ranging from imposing gender restrictions on men to promoting a socialist uprising.
2. Friends with Benefits
Near the end of May, Morgan State University Professor of Public Health Lawrence Brown tweeted his model for a code of conduct for interracial friendships in America.
Brown may have been inspired for the sixth rule by his financial relationship with wealthy white-man George Soros, from whom he received a $60,000 scholarship from the Soros Foundation, according to Weasel Zippers.
1. Herr Walker
This month, University of Wisconsin sociology professor Sara Goldrick-Rab took to the social media platform to vent her anger towards Governor Scott Walker, a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
When The College Fix reached out to the professor for clarification on her tweets, Goldrick-Rab supported her comments by saying she cited “an expert in the field – a psychoanalyst with decades of experience – compared the ‘psychological characteristics’ of the two individuals, and that I was struck by his analysis.”
However, National Review’s Katherine Timpf explained such an assessment is contrary to the American Psychiatric Association’s ethics guidelines, which states that “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he/she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”