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UGA panel clears ‘some white people may have to die’ TA of code of conduct charges

A University of Georgia judiciary panel earlier this week cleared Irami Osei-Frimpong, a Ph.D. philosophy candidate, of code of conduct charges alleging he lied on his graduate application.

Osei-Frimpong had garnered national headlines earlier this year after posting on Facebook that “some White people may have to die for Black communities to be made whole in this struggle to advance to freedom.” University of Georgia officials initially defended the comments as free speech, then backtracked after donors threatened to pull funding, promising to explore all legal options.

Soon after, Osei-Frimpong faced a code of conduct charge for reporting “no” when asked on his grad school application: “Have you ever been charged with or convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a crime other than a minor traffic offense?” He was also asked to explain why he did not list the Goethe Institute, Tufts and University of Chicago when asked to cite “all institutions of higher education previously attended” on his application.

A Formal Hearing Decision Form dated May 6 and republished by the Red & Black student newspaper states Osei-Frimpong did not furnish false information on his application. It stated he was arrested, but not charged, over his involvement in a 2011 Occupy Wall Street protest in Chicago. And what’s more, the panel found he did not intentionally mislead officials by not listing the other colleges he attended because he only audited classes at Goethe and Tufts, he was not officially enrolled.

As for his time at the University of Chicago, he was not majoring in philosophy so he did not think he had to list it for his philosophy grad school application at UGA, and panel members stated they believed he had no dishonest intent, citing a letter of recommendation from the University of Chicago in his application to UGA as proof he would have disclosed his time there if he fully understood the question.

The panel’s decision was met with guarded support from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which stated Osei-Frimpong should have never faced any sanctions to begin with and the whole ordeal had a chilling effect on free speech.

“In backtracking from initial statements that correctly observed that Osei-Frimpong’s speech was protected and mounting a ‘vigorous’ search for legal options, UGA — intentionally or not — sent a strong message to students and faculty members that university officials will look for any legal way to punish speech if enough outrage is drummed up. Students and faculty members must be assured that pressure from donors will not determine whether one’s speech results in censorship, a six-hour-long hearing for trumped up charges, or worse,” FIRE stated.

Osei-Frimpong has a colorful history of online comments.

In the past, Osei-Frimpong, who posts YouTube videos as “The Funky Academic,” has referred to white people as “autistic,” “sociopaths,” and “Chick fil-A employees.” In a recent Twitter post, Osei-Frimpong explained that “fighting White people is a skill,” ending with a quote from Dr. Bobby Wright in which he said, “Blacks kill Blacks because they have never been trained to kill Whites.” On gender issues, Osei-Frimpong tweeted “Masculinity is a form of Whiteness,” and that “the aspiration for manhood reinforces White supremacy.”

In recent days, the scholar appeared to remark on the controversy he faced.

“I’m not targeted because I’m Black; I’m targeted because I think the problem with Black America is how we make White people,” he tweeted May 5. “If we want justice for Black Americans, we have to dismantle and replace the engines of White cultural production: their schools, churches, and families.”

“I study philosophy because I think that White schools, churches, and families in America are internally incoherent and provide the resources for their own de-legitimacy. I study politics and psychology because de-legitimacy isn’t enough. We are going to need state guns,” he continued. “… So win the argument, but know that you are dealing with folks who have been trained to be sociopaths, so be prepared to take control of guns and budgets.”

And on Facebook, he addressed the waste of taxpayer dollars the probe cost.

“According to the investigative report, all of these UGA Administrators had the discretionary power to resolve this situation months ago; instead, they loaded down a panel of students and one staff person with the responsibility of presenting, adjudicating, and dismissing the Administration’s hastily contrived case,” he posted May 7.

“It strikes me that either each one of these people is very bad at his/her job– while fleecing taxpayer dollars– or their job was to hassle me and send a message about how the University Administration retaliates against political speech. I do not feel made whole by this process.”

MORE: UGA investigates TA who said ‘some White people may have to die’

IMAGE: YouTube screenshot

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.