FIRE calls on Saint Joseph’s to reinstate and end investigation into professor for political tweets

FIRE calls on Saint Joseph’s to reinstate and end investigation into professor for political tweets

2021-02-23 20:55:48

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

FIRE calls on Saint Joseph to restore and end the investigation into professor for political tweets

by Sabrina Conza

February 23, 2021

FIRE warned Saint Joseph & # 39; s University that it should end the suspension and investigation of Professor Gregory Manco because of his tweets criticizing reparations and perception of racism in the United States.

After a Twitter user tagged SJU in a tweet containing a collection of tweets from Manco from his personal Twitter account, SJU suspended Manco pending the investigation of his tweets. Manco students have also been told that he will not be returning for the rest of the semester, indicating that the university has already decided to further punish Manco.

FIRE wrote to the SJU to make it clear that Manco's extramural expression cannot be investigated or punished.

Manco maintains the personal Twitter account @SouthJerzGiants to share his views on local, state and national politics and social issues. The account does not list his name or his affiliation with SJU.

The shared tweets include comments opposing President Joe Biden's support for studying reparations for black Americans for slavery and fighting the idea that the US is a racist country.

Manco's tweets, while offensive to some, don't fall under the First Amendment's limited categories of unprotected speech. The SJU should not punish Manco for his protected extramural expression.

While SJU is a private university and is therefore not bound by the First Amendment, it is is bound by the strong promises of academic freedom and free speech that the university makes to its faculty. SJU has the 1940 Statement of the American Association of University Professors, which states that when professors "speak or write as citizens, they should be free from (university) censorship or discipline." It also makes it clear in his discrimination policy that "Saint Joseph's vigorously supports and protects the principle of academic freedom."

By suspending and investigating Manco for his tweets, SJU is violating its commitments and making it clear to members of its community that they cannot rely on the university's promises.

Manco continues to tweet with his once-anonymous account. However, not everyone under public pressure would do the same. SJU's decision to punish and investigate Manco for his protected speech may cool the expression of professors who use social media in their private capacities.

To mitigate this chilling effect and comply with its own policies, the SJU must publicly end Manco's suspension, stop investigating him, and try again to protect the free speech and academic freedom of its faculty.


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