Coastal Carolina University theater professor Steven Earnest says his employer is trying to fire him after he wrote in September that students’ feelings were hurt too easily over a campus incident.
“Sorry but I don’t think it’s a big deal. (I’m) just sad people get their feelings hurt so easily,” reads an email that resulted in Earnest’s de facto suspension sent in response to a school-wide message affirming students’ feelings about an allegedly racist incident that never actually occurred.
“I thought my university, where I had worked for over 15 years, would stand behind its faculty. I was wrong,” Earnest told the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: High School Cancels Nikole Hannah-Jones Lecture Over Fear Of ‘Noise’)
Several students of color expressed their desire to connect with other students of color in a class hosted by a guest lecturer on Sept. 16, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Other students found the list of non-white students left behind on a whiteboard, assumed the list was malicious and planned a protest.
School administrators investigated the incident and explained that it was a misunderstanding to the student body, but added that “this in no way undermines the feelings that any of you feel about this incident,” and “the DEI committee will be discussing with faculty and students the gravity of the situation and how to handle these requests in the future.”
After Earnest’s response, students promptly called for him to be suspended and the Humanities and Fine Arts dean told Earnest not to come to his classes and to send her his syllabus, according to FIRE.
Campus administrators would be well-advised not to put themselves in the position of being responsible for every hurt feeling, no matter how ill-founded or slight. There’s little benefit to making diversity synonymous with absurdity.https://t.co/SyvvJKvXLr
— reason (@reason) October 21, 2021
“I understand they want me to resign, or they will fire me. I have been told nothing directly though,” Earnest told the DCNF. “I have still not been told what rule or policy I broke, what code of conduct I violated, or anything. When the other side can’t tell you why they are doing something, chances are they don’t have a very good or legitimate reason for doing it.”
Earnest described a toxic culture within CCU’s theater department, which is slowly taking hold across the school. Free speech and civility are disappearing from universities across the country, according to Earnest.
CCU told the Daily Caller News Foundation that it is “unable to provide information on personnel matters.”
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