The College Post
The College Post -- Covering Higher Education in America

UNH Investigates Male Professor Posing as Woman of Color on Twitter

The University of Hampshire (UNH) has sent one of its assistant professors on leave for allegedly posing as a woman of color on social media.

The university said the matter is under investigation, but refused to reveal the identity of the person.

“We were recently made aware of allegations on social media about a member of our faculty. We are deeply troubled by what we’ve learned so far and immediately launched an investigation,” the university said on Twitter.

UNH’s student paper The New Hampshire later reported the professor’s name as Craig Chapman, a white male who teaches chemistry at the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS).

The paper said his identity was revealed on Reddit and Twitter by an anonymous person from CEPS’ chemistry department.

The Science Femme

Chapman was allegedly using Twitter under the name “The Science Femme” with the now-deleted handle @piney_the. He reportedly made several racist and sexist comments, particularly against users supporting racial justice and other progressive causes.

Seacoast Media Group said it obtained a document compiling many of the tweets as well as reactions to them by Glen Miller, chair of UNH’s chemistry department.

In one of The Science Femme’s tweets made following the George Floyd unrest in May-June, the user reportedly wrote: “I was successful in killing my dept.’s woke statement on recent social unrest” and that it’s “a toxic ideology that cannot be given an inch.”

In the same tweet, the user also boasted of having removed “woke terminology from the statement including anti-racism, white supremacy, white privilege, and claims of systemic racism.”

People who have had interactions with the Twitter handle before it was taken down last week reportedly said that the user routinely posted racist, sexist, and transphobic comments and images over the past year.

Fake POC Background to Deflect Criticism

They also reportedly said the user would use his “background” of a colored woman to deflect any criticism that would come his way.

Susanna Harris, who runs a company that supports graduate students and had run-ins with the person behind the account, told the Associated Press (AP) that the most troubling part was the way he attacked women of color when they didn’t agree with him and encouraged his followers to do the same.

“It was scary,” Harris said of the exchange to AP. “Sometimes, the internet crosses into real life. A lot of work I do is through social media and science communication. Defaming my character online affects my ability to do those things but also there is the very real threat that people could find my personal location.”

The incident comes weeks after two other white US college teachers admitted cultural appropriation.

Jessica Krug, an Associate Professor at George Washington University specializing in African and Latin American history, admitted in early September of pretending to be Black for most of her adult life. She resigned immediately after her admission.

In another incident in the same month, CV Vitolo-Hadad, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-president of the university’s Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA), admitted to falsely claiming to be a person of color. 

In her admission, Krug said that “mental health issues likely explain why I assumed a false identity initially” and added, quoting her mental health counselors, that “this is a common response to some of the severe trauma that marked my early childhood and teen years.”

Vito-Hadad, on the other hand, wrote: “I have let guesses about my ancestry become answers I wanted … I have left people to make assumptions when I should have corrected them.”