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UW-Green Bay students want professor fired for alleged racism, transphobia


He criticizes transgender ideology, quoted n-word from Jesse Jackson

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay want a professor terminated for social media commentary they consider “racist” and “transphobic.”

Andrew Austin, a professor in the school’s Democracy & Justice Studies program, allegedly made students feel “unsafe” by, among other things, posting information on X (Twitter) from the “anti-LGBTQ group” Libs of TikTok, according to NBC 26.

The broadcast version of the report cited one retweet of a Libs of TikTok post that criticized drag shows. Austin’s X account does feature tweets and retweets critical of transgender ideology (below).

UWGB junior James Harris said he was “putting [his] social justice emphasis to use” against Austin claiming “there’s a certain point where [Austin’s] opinions become actual opinions become actual problems for students on campus.”

Harris added students need to feel safe in order to learn “how to be adults” and “how to be functional members of society,” but Professor Austin “directly opposes that.”

Ironically, Harris (pictured) recently was named a UWGB Newman Civic Fellow due to his emphasis on the “importance of civil discourse.”

https://media.licdn.com/dms/image/D5603AQH9mhcyt74OqQ/profile-displayphoto-shrink_200_200/0/1669145969190?e=2147483647&v=beta&t=kpfgk5keO4gkjRx2tx0XVJ37MzC0vkEyRA3_2xUE_jEEmma Embers, a UWGB trans-female student, said (s)he doesn’t “necessarily feel” safe around Austin. Embers also said attempting to get Austin fired isn’t “cancel culture, it’s accountability.”

Embers and Harris also pointed to Austin’s blog, specifically a 16-year-old post in which they note the professor used the n-word 11 times.

But a reading of the post shows Austin quotes Jesse Jackson using the word and offers associated commentary via Jackson’s then-criticisms of Barack Obama — in other words, an educational/intellectual context.

A petition calling for Austin’s dismissal has garnered about 30 signatures, according to the report.

MORE: Coach fired for saying biological men can outperform women in sports: lawsuit

Austin told the NBC 26 “My social media presence is not relevant to my role at this university. I won’t participate in furthering cancel culture.”

Andrew AustinThe report notes the university’s employee social media policy states “personal expression or opinions of a UW-Green Bay employee can be misinterpreted as an institutional voice or opinion whether they are on an official UW-Green Bay site or a personal site which identifies them as employees of UW-Green Bay.”

Neither Austin’s blog nor his X account identify him as a UWGB professor.

Contacted by The College Fix for comment, Austin (pictured) said he’s “trying to stay above the fray” as the entire situation is “absurd”:

My hope is that [UWGB administrators] aren’t so woke themselves that they cooperate with an attempt to cancel a professor with tenure for exercising his constitutional right to express opinions on social media. Even if I said some of these things in class, academic freedom protects objectionable speech. If the university isn’t prepared to uphold the principles of free speech and academic freedom, then the institution is lost.

[I]t’s personally discouraging to see students behave this way. Educators failed them along the way if they don’t understand why they’re in college. Indeed, I think k-12 shoulders a lot of the blame for failing to teach young Americans the value of critical thinking and viewpoint diversity. You always hope students take care to respect the classical liberal values that underpin enlightened Western civilization, and to their credit, many of them do.

Editor’s note: The article was updated with information on one of the posts cited by students as being offensive.

MORE: Professor made student ‘uncomfortable’ with open debate, gets fired

IMAGES: Kristiana Gankevych/Shutterstock; James Harris/Linkedin; UW-Green Bay

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.