Ohio State student says he left graduate program after being harassed over his criticism of diversity program

A former graduate student in the history department at Ohio State University (OSU) says he left the program after faculty and administrators attacked him for making disparaging remarks about the school’s diversity program.

An Ohio State student says he left their graduate program after being attacked by university administrators for skewering the school's diversity program.

Mark Stickle, the former student, says he mistakenly cc’d professor Dr. Judy Wu on a negative email regarding the school’s Diversity and Identity Studies Collective (DISCO), which he says was actually intended for a friend.

“Fyi…here’s another one from the DISCO folks…have some fun with it,” he wrote, according to emails provided to Campus Reform by Stickle. “[T]hey never stop—your tax dollars at work.”

Shortly after sending that email, Stickle’s says he sent an apology to Wu, informing of the mistaken CC.

According to emails, obtained by Stickle through freedom of information laws and shared with Campus Reform, Wu did not respond.

Instead, it appears she sent disparaging emails about Stickle to university faculty  and administrators before reporting the seemingly benign remark to the OSU’s Bias Assessment and Response Team (BART).

“I think it is offensive and unprofessional,” she wrote to one colleague regarding Stickle’s email.

Another professor, Robin Judd, emailed Dr. Wu that she was “just so horrified and saddened” by Stickle’s email and that she was “combing through our handbook…to see what policies we set out concerning this kind of behavior.”

Stickle says he was only alerted of the BART investigation after a meeting with his advisor, John Brooke and the head of the OSU History Department, Peter Hahn.

“I then made the decision to withdraw from the program when it became clear to me that I had no support within the department, and when I recognized that my values… are unwelcome and unwanted at Ohio State,”  Stickle told Campus Reform last week.

“[T]he case against me was judged ludicrous and thrown out – but not before Professors Judd and Wu had engaged in a wide-ranging e-mail campaign, aimed at undermining my character and my reputation as a scholar,” Stickle commented.

Neither Wu, OSU administrators or faculty provided comment on Stickle’s allegations despite multiple request from Campus Reform over the period of a week.

According to the emails provided to Campus Reform, Wu also contacted the history department at the OSU campus in Newark about Stickle, where he says he was in informal talks about employment. Stickle believes that the correspondence ruined any hopes of him having employment at that campus.

“She made sure my name was besmirched on the Newark campus, where I had talked with some people that would’ve hopefully laid the groundwork for a future teaching appointment,” Stickle said.

This wasn’t the first time that Stickle had outraged the school’s administration. In 2009, he posted a comment on Facebook that questioned OSU’s Chancellor Gordon Gee’s connection with a coal company and his commitment to a “green university,” which prompted the school to temporarily shut down its official Facebook page and delete Stickle’s comment.

Stickle, 59, is a former bank executive who decided to follow his passion and study history following his retirement in 2003.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ScottMGreer

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