In a statement released yesterday, Drexel University announced that they won’t be taking drastic measures against Professor George Ciccariello-Maher who wished for “white Genocide” for Christmas, stating his right to freedom of speech, despite not granting the same rights to their students.
Professor Ciccariello-Maher caused a controversy over Christmas after he tweeted: “All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide,” sparking backlash against him. The university at the time said that his comments were “utterly reprehensible” and “deeply disturbing”. They added that the institution is “taking this situation very seriously.” The professor claimed it was satire.
After his infamous tweet, many people openly called for the professor’s head. One Twitter user wrote: “What a disgrace… he should be fired!”
Another Tweeter wrote, “Ciccariello-Maher needs to be fired for his ‘White Genocide’ tweet.” And other Twitter users posted Drexel University’s phone line asking people to call in and demand to fire the professor.
But on Thursday, a mere four days after the promise to investigate the matter, the university released a statement claiming Ciccariello-Maher’s comments fall under the category of “protected speech” and thus no actions will be taken against him.
“Instances such as this one both test and strengthen Drexel’s fundamental dedication to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression,” the statement reads.
“The University vigorously supports the right of its faculty members and students to freely express their opinions in the course of academic debate and discussion. In this vein, we recognize Professor Ciccariello-Maher’s tweets as protected speech,” said the statement signed by University President John A. Fry.
It added: “The University strongly encourages the use of speech—not threats or violence—to counter speech with which one disagrees. In the coming months, we look forward to a constructive exchange of ideas and opinions on the subject of academic freedom and freedom of speech.”
While Drexel insists on granting free speech privileges to its professors, the faculty has been applying a different set of rules for their students.
At the university, students are forbidden from posting any material on campus that “may be viewed as demeaning or degrading to a person or group of persons.” The policy also suggests that harassment could include “denigrating jokes” and “written or graphic material” which “shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group.” The institution also counts “inappropriately directed laughter” as a form of harassment.
Drexel University is also one of the few universities in the country that expects trigger warnings in classes. According to the policy, “It is expected that instructors will offer appropriate warning and accommodation regarding the introduction of explicit and triggering materials used.”
So much for free speech at Drexel.