Black Vanderbilt prof. latest target of racial protests

Students at Vanderbilt University have created an online petition, calling for the suspension of Political Science and Law professor Carol Swain from her tenured position, according to a report by the Vanderbilt Hustler. The petition also calls for mandatory diversity training for all faculty, including Swain, and has 1,600 signatures at time of publication.

The petition charges Swain with having expressed views on her Facebook and her column in The Tennessean that are “espousing hate towards minorities.” Swain has been a controversial figure at Vanderbilt since her column following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, denouncing Islam appeared in The Tennessean.

The petition calls for a review of Swain’s Facebook page and her using the term “professor” on her Facebook page and column an abuse of her title at Vanderbilt. “Swain has let her hate-filled prejudices negatively impact her work, our student body, and Vanderbilt’s reputation”. It also claims that Swain is “in direct violation of the university’s non-discrimination policy.”

The petition goes on to claim that “Carol Swain has publicly denounced a broad swath of minorities, including many with which students here can identify,” the petition reads. “Ms. Swain has called out, amongst others, all non-Christian individuals, particularly Muslims and the Islamic community, as well as the LGBTQIA+ community, especially transgender individuals.”

Students have been angry for a long time, according to junior Shelby House, who said she hopes this petition shows the administration how serious this issue is.

“In reality, the university's hands are not tied,” House said. “They can and should dismiss Carol Swain for her wildly unprofessional behavior, but they just know they would have a media nightmare on their hands which they would rather not face. I think that's lazy and really telling.”

“I don’t know what will happen, I think the students have a lot of influence. I think the university has created a place where they feel safe attacking anyone that holds a view that they disagree with, and it is creating an environment that makes them feel safe doing that, is doing them a disservice.” Professor Swain said in an interview with Campus Reform.

Swain is a political science and law professor and has been at Vanderbilt since 1999. Swain has been on sabbatical the past two semesters, but she is expected to teach American Political Culture in the political science department next semester.

The petition has undergone several changes, first calling for Swain’s firing, then permanent suspension, and now her temporary suspension.

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