University Rejects Resignation Letter of Professor Who Urged Black Students to Ignore Death Threats
The University of Missouri, which is already dealing with racial unrest, is embroiled in another controversy. Prof. Dale Brigham resigned after he sent an insensitive email to Black students who feared attending classes. In spite of being faced with death threats, Brigham, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology, told Black students to still attend his class.
“If you give in to bullies, they win,” Brigham wrote. “The only way bullies are defeated is by standing up to them. If we cancel the exam, they win; if we go through with it, they lose.”
Brigham’s insensitive statements enraged Black students, who shared their anger on Twitter.
“My Teacher had the nerve to email me, ‘If we cancel class, then we let the bullies win.’ Like this is a game or something,” wrote JJ Not Jay-Jay.
Faced with a mounting backlash, Brigham offered his resignation.
“I am just trying to do what I think is best for our students and the university as an institution,” he said. “If my leaders think that my leaving would help, I am all for it.”
However, the university has rejected his resignation. No reason was given, according to NBC News.
The situation at the University of Missouri is tense. On Wednesday, police arrested Hunter Park, a computer science student, for making death threats to Black students on social media. Park said he planned to “shoot every black person I see,” on the social media app Yik Yak, which allows users to leave anonymous messages. However, messages can still be traced.
This is not the only racial incident reported on the University of Missouri campus. Several Black students and faculty have reported being called the n-word. Other Black students say they have been threatened by masked men and last month a swastika made out of excrement was smeared on a wall.
The University of Missouri football team went on strike to force the administration to take the threats seriously. Their actions lead to the resignations of President Tim Wolfe and campus Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams said, as a white man, Brigham could not understand the level of violence people of color, women and other marginalized groups face.
“It is a fine sentiment to say, ‘If you give into bullies, they win.’ It is simply not a realistic one for a lot of people,” she wrote in a Salon article. “The violence that people of color, that LGBT individuals, that women, that any number of despised segments of the population face, is real. His (Brigham) attempted bravery comes from a position of not having to live life as a black student on his campus in 2015.”