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Ferris State University Professor on Leave After Racist Tweets

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A science professor at Ferris State University has been placed on administrative leave after denying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and posting bigoted and anti-Semitic slurs on Twitter.

Professor Thomas Brennan is now under investigation by the school for his alleged remarks. In an email, Brennan said, “I feel I’m being unfairly portrayed as a racist and anti-Semite.”

Brennan also acknowledged in his statement that COVID-19 is not a hoax and that his remarks about the pandemic have been blown out of proportion by the media.

FSU President David Eisler announced that the university is “shocked and outraged” at Brennan’s remarks and “strongly rejects” the professor’s offensive statements. He further expressed his interest in “repairing the damage from these actions.”

After the university’s student-run newspaper The Torch began inquiring about Brennan, his Twitter account is now hidden from public view and was reportedly made private.

In his statement, Brennan justified the use of the n-word in one of his tweets as an attempt to “neutralize its power.” He explained that he used the word as a synonym for “human being” or “person” in the context of the tweet.

Brennan deleted the tweet within a few hours of posting it in July 2019.

Similar Cases Elsewhere

Brennan is not the first instructor to post racist or homophobic tweets. 

In September, Duquesne University in Pennsylvania placed professor Gary Shank on leave after a video circulated of him uttering a racial slur during an online class. In the video, Shank says that it’s fine to use the “n-word” during a discussion because “we’re using it in a pedagogical sense.” He was notified of his termination “due to serious misconduct” on October 7.

Also earlier this month, the president of the board of trustees of Cuesta College, California, Peter Sysak shared posts on Facebook calling transgender people “mentally ill” and women who have had abortions as not deserving to have opinions on human rights.

There have also been similar reports of college faculty members openly denying the pandemic or calling it a hoax. In September, Michael Palmer, a University of Waterloo chemistry professor sent an email declaring that the reason his in-class exams weren’t mandatory was because of the “COVID fake emergency.”

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