Coastal Carolina U. Prof Faces Termination After Brushing Off False Racist Accusations From Student Activists
“The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education calls on Coastal Carolina to reinstate Dr. Steven Earnest, who was suspended from teaching after criticizing student protestors who staged a walkout because they saw the names of students of color written on a whiteboard and mistook the list as malicious. In fact, it turned out to have been a list of students who might want to hang out together.”
A professor of theater at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina is facing the possibility of termination over nothing more than students who became offended over nothing. This type of situation is becoming more typical.
The names of some students of color were written on a whiteboard for a perfectly innocent reason, but it was misinterpreted by other students looking for a reason to be outraged.
Robby Soave of Reason has a concise summary of what happened:
Coastal Caroline University (CCU) is moving to terminate a theater professor who expressed the opinion that an extremely minor incident on campus did not merit a dramatic response from the department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
“Sorry but I don’t think it’s a big deal,” wrote the professor, Steven Earnest, in reference to the matter. “I’m just sad people get their feelings hurt so easily. And they are going into Theater?”
On September 16, a visiting artist spoke with two students of color who explained that they were hoping to connect with other non-white students on campus. The three of them subsequently wrote down the names of other students of color who might wish to connect and discuss their shared struggles. They left this list of names on a classroom’s whiteboard; the next class saw it and thought that non-white students had been singled out for some nefarious purpose. A protest was planned.
The diversity committee investigated—and swiftly cleared up—the matter. “We believe it is important to inform the student body that the intent behind the list was as a resource for new students who are looking to be in community with other BIPOC students,” wrote the committee in an email to campus.
Even though the accusing students, who were wrong, created this problem, Earnest is now looking at the real possibility of losing his job for noting the overreaction.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has gotten involved in the case:
A theater professor wasn’t sufficiently outraged about a list of names on a whiteboard. The college’s next act: probable termination.
Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education calls on Coastal Carolina to reinstate Dr. Steven Earnest, who was suspended from teaching after criticizing student protestors who staged a walkout because they saw the names of students of color written on a whiteboard and mistook the list as malicious. In fact, it turned out to have been a list of students who might want to hang out together.
“I thought I’d seen everything, but my head is still spinning from this case,” said Ronnie London, FIRE’s Faculty Legal Defense Fund vice president. “A professor stands to lose his job for not being sufficiently mad about something that wasn’t meant to cause anger in the first place. Coastal Carolina’s response is not only overly dramatic, but also unconstitutional.”…
Students critical of Earnest’s emails accused him of being racially insensitive and dismissive of students of color. Several also called for Earnest to be fired and protested by boycotting theater classes.
“It was upsetting to be accused of racism by students and others with whom I have never interacted,” said Earnest. “But it was even more upsetting to have these false accusations ratified by a university that I have called home for over fifteen years.”
To recap: There was no incident of racism here. Nothing happened. There was no problem until ignorant, overly-sensitive students who didn’t understand what was going on decided to create a problem out of thin air, and Professor Earnest is the one at fault.
Featured image via YouTube.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.