Campus Reform | Tennessee Tech U. profs harass colleague for supporting TPUSA

Tennessee Tech U. profs harass colleague for supporting TPUSA

Professors at Tennessee Tech University posted flyers around campus calling their colleague a 'racist' for sponsoring Turning Point USA.

The flyers allegedly came after the professor opposed changing the local school district’s mascot.

Two professors at Tennessee Tech University posted flyers around campus calling their colleague “racist” for sponsoring Turning Point USA. 

Andrew Smith and Julia Gruber, who teach English and German respectively, posted the flyers portraying nursing professor Andrew Donadio as a dark, racist figure after learning he agreed to advise the school’s Turning Point USA chapter.

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“This racist college professor thought it would be a great idea to help start a Tennessee Tech chapter for this national hate group, where racist students can unite to harass, threaten, intimidate, and terrorize persons of color, feminists, liberals, and the like, especially their teachers,” the flyer said.

“Their organization created a national ‘Professor Watchlist’ to harass and intimidate progressive educators, including many women, African-American, and Muslim professors.”

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“Professor Donadio and Turning Point USA: You are on our list,”  the flyer continued, “Your hate and hypocrisy are not welcome at Tennessee Tech. No unity with racists. Hate speech is not free speech.”  

Donadio says the flyers interfered with his job.

“That walked right up to the limit of the First Amendment and almost crossed it,” Donadio told The Tennessee Star in April. “They are undermining my ability to educate my nursing students. When I’m in a hospital situation and a patient isn’t doing well, my students need to know they can depend on me and rely on me. That affects patient care and I take that seriously.”

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According to a Tennessee Tech police report obtained by The Tennessee Star, Donadio filed a complaint after he attended a Putnam County School Board meeting on February 4. At the meeting, Donadio — who serves as a county commissioner — spoke in favor of keeping the Algood Middle School’s “Redskins” mascot; however, he told police that he believed Gruber was also in attendance and “did not agree with his stance on the issue.”

The police report notes that on February 5, Donadio arrived to work and was told by a colleague that he had “found a flyer posted about him around the same time he saw Professor Gruber in the building.”

According to student newspaper the Tennessee Tech Oracle, the university said Gruber and Smith’s distributing the flyers violated the school’s code of conduct.

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Tennessee Tech spokeswoman Karen Lykins provided Campus Reform with the school’s statement, which states that “no disciplinary action has been taken at this time” against either professor. 

“The university will maintain the confidentiality of the complaint, and the privacy of the persons involved, to the greatest extent possible, consistent with its goal of conducting a thorough and complete investigation and to the extent permitted by the law,” the statement continued. “It is also university practice not to comment on internal employment matters, so the university will not issue a public statement at the conclusion of the matter."

Donadio confirmed the validity of the flyer and police report to Campus Reform

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In a phone interview, Donadio told Campus Reform that he is “thankful to Tennessee Tech for taking this threat to the students at Turning Point USA, other faculty and staff, and myself seriously, and investigating it in a fair and impartial way.”

He encouraged students and professors at other universities across the United States to promptly report such incidents when they occur on their campuses.

Gruber explained to Campus Reform that her “only encounter with AJ Donadio occurred at a school board meeting... when the school board announced that Algood Middle School was going to keep their racist school mascot.”

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Gruber alleged that Donadio then “stood up shouted a loud whoop, and clapped excessively and extremely loudly and unnecessary for the room space that we were in.”

“I thought his behavior was hostile, disrespectful, and unprofessional, considering his position as a publicly elected official,” she claimed. “After the meeting, Mr. Donadio quickly left. Other people stayed to discuss what had happened. He clearly was not interested in talking about his mission. I learned from a newspaper article that he had been ‘campaigning to retain the mascot.’”

Campus Reform reached out to Smith, Gruber, and Tennessee Tech for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow this author on Twitter: @BenZeisloft