University of Tampa Should Immediately Reinstate Lecturer Fired Over Tweet


Alarmed by news that the University of Tampa has fired a faculty member over a tweet suggesting that Hurricane Harvey was “karma” for Texas because it voted Republican, the AAUP has been in contact with the affected faculty member, Kenneth Storey. Our understanding is that Storey, a visiting assistant professor of sociology in his first semester of full-time appointment, was informed by letter that his services were terminated, and that he has not been allowed a hearing.

Assuming the accuracy of this information, we have two serious concerns with the university administration’s actions:

  1. The administration dismissed Storey without having first demonstrated cause in a faculty hearing. This is fundamentally at odds with basic standards of academic due process.
  2. The reason for the dismissal raises an issue of academic freedom. Faculty members have the right to speak or write as citizens, free from institutional censorship or discipline.

If the administration believes that a professor’s extramural utterances raise grave doubts concerning the professor’s fitness for continuing service, it should file charges against the professor and the case should be considered by an appropriately constituted body. We note that the faculty handbook of the University of Tampa explicitly endorses the AAUP’s policies and standards regarding these matters.

We urge the administration to rescind the notice of dismissal issued to Professor Storey immediately and to ensure that any future actions are consistent with the standards referenced above.

See our letter to the University of Tampa administration.

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8 thoughts on “University of Tampa Should Immediately Reinstate Lecturer Fired Over Tweet

  1. Common decency was not one of this professor’s best qualities (in my opinion). What about the people who did NOT vote for Mr. Trump? Did those who have died because of this terrible hurricane deserve this also?

    We must ALL be responsible for our actions. Have we no right to disagree with someone without being called a racist, etc?

    What has this great country become?

    • We have every right to disagree, but firing someone from their job without any hearing is, I would say, quite a bit more than disagreement.

      • Mr. Reichman: Thank you for your kind reply. Personally, I would not want any of my children to be taught by someone who is so insensitive to the disaster/harm/demise of someone based upon whom they did/did not vote for.

        Remember the guy who berated a “DRIVE-THRU” young lady at Chick-Filet, and how she handled (with grace and courtesy) his tirade against Chick-Filet? Because of his (may I say absolutely “mean-attitude”) toward the company, he was terminated from his employment after that video was posted on YouTube.. As a result, his family suffered from what HE did.

        Can you possibly imagine a conservative professor making the statement that the residents of South West Chicago (because they voted for a Democratic leadership in the city) deserve the HORRIFIC crime rate that is occurring there? Really.. . . . .l

        Have a blessed day, sir!

        • Hello Robert,

          I definitely understand where you are coming from. However, the issue here is not that he was fired. The issue is that it was not done legally. Each faculty member has the right to a faculty hearing before termination. It’s like prison. You can’t put someone in jail without a trial. If they had gone the correct channels, then there would be no issue. Because they violated the rights and policies in his contract, he is entitled to his job or could sure and rightly win.

          • Mr. Reichman:

            I agree with your statement. I was wrong; The idea of anyone who could make a remark that was so callous and (in my opinion) just downright mean is beyond the pale.

            It is NEVER wrong to do the right thing.

            I knew a man (now deceased) who accidentally walked into a mine field at the Chosen Resivoir in North Korea in December 1950. He was a Staff Sargent with the 1st Marine Division.

            This man hated blacks, Jews, and Catholics. . .literally hated them.

            Two other Marines got trapped in the mine field with him. One of them tripped an anti-personnal mine, which killed both of them, and blew my friend’s left leg off.

            Because of the extreme cold (-45 degrees below zero), his wounds froze, stopping the bleeding and keeping him alive. However, he was still about 50 yards inside the mine field.

            The man who rescued him crawled the 50 yards to get him. My friend was unconscious when he was finally rescued. He never saw the Marine who brought him to safety. THAT Marine was later killed the same day in a firefight with Chinese troops.

            On his way home, my friend’s commanding officer stopped in Japan to see him (the officer was on HIS way home).

            He was told that the Marine who rescued him had been killed the same day, and that the Marine was a black man from New Orleans who happened to be Catholic. His commanding officer knew how my friend felt about blacks and Catholics.

            My friend told me that he layed in that hospital bed in Japan for about 2 more months, thinking of how stupid he was for hating someone just because of the color of their skin, religion, etc.

            He said he asked for God’s forgiveness, and later on became a Christian preacher. He never pastored a church, but continued to preach for the rest oh his life.

            Pardon me for such a long story. I just wanted to say that the black Marine did the right thing, even knowing how my friend hated him.

            Knowing that, I just can’t imagine how anyone could say what that professor said.

            Where was his love for people? Christ said that if we say that we love God, yet hate our brother, we are a liar!

            Have a nice day, Sir.

  2. If a professor was fired for the equally reprehensible claim that 9/11 happened because America was beginning to support gay rights, would the AAUP also fight for his reinstatement? I’m truly curious.

    This professor’s claim is, for the record, an example of hate speech. Whether or not it should be protected as free speech is a separate question.

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