Two U. Texas Austin Graduate Students Removed From Teaching Duties After Messaging Students About ‘Mental Health and Violence in Gaza’
“University officials said the social work graduate students did not have permission to send out the message”
Here’s a tip for everyone working in higher education. Don’t say stupid things about this situation.
From the Dallas Morning News:
Message about Gaza leads to removal of UT teaching assistants
Two graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin were recently dismissed from teaching assistant roles after sending a message to students titled “mental health and violence in Gaza.”
University officials said the social work graduate students did not have permission to send out the message, but the students said Friday that they did and are being unfairly punished for exercising freedom of speech.
In the Nov. 16 message, Parham Daghighi and Callie Kennedy wrote that they wanted to acknowledge “the mental health implications of the current escalation of violence in Gaza” and clarify that they do not “support the university’s silence around the suffering many of our students, staff, and faculty are experiencing on campus.”
Along with that message, Daghighi and Kennedy provided links to mental health resources available to students on and off campus. They wrapped up the message by stating that they “firmly support the rights and autonomy of Palestinians, Indigenous people, and displaced peoples across the globe, knowing that oppression results in trauma and negative mental health outcomes that can span generations.”
Less than a week later, on Nov. 22, both graduate students received a letter from a dean letting them know that they were “effective immediately … relieved of this work assignment” and “will not be reappointed as a TA next semester.”
After The Dallas Morning News published its story online Friday, the university offered both graduate students the possibility of other, unspecified work for the spring 2024 semester.
“It doesn’t specify what the work will be and we will not be teaching again,” Kennedy said in a statement. “So this still functions as a punishment.”
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