Wayne State Board of Governors silent on professor’s violent rhetoric

Board members for Michigan public institutions, including Wayne State, are publicly elected to eight-year terms, two of which are up for election in 2024.

Wayne State University professor Steven Shaviro was suspended with pay by the university after a Facebook post calling for the killing of ‘racist, homophobic, or transphobic’ speakers.

The Board of Governors of Wayne State University have repeatedly refused Campus Reform’s request for comment on the statements made by professor Steven Shaviro, who gained public attention last month when he stated that it would be “more admirable” to kill conservatives than protest or prevent their speech.

The English professor at the public Michigan university was suspended from his position after publishing a Facebook post stating, “So here is what I think about free speech on campus. Although I do not advocate violating federal and state codes, I think it is far more admirable to kill a racist, homophobic, or transphobic speaker than it is to shout them down,” as Campus Reform previously reported.

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After several weeks of attempting to contact members of the Board of Governors, Campus Reform received an official statement from the Associate Vice President of University Communications saying that the Board has formally declined Campus Reform’s request for comment.

Board member Bryan Barnhill III briefly spoke with Campus Reform over the telephone saying that he was unable to speak on the issue without either coordination from the Board or the university.

The boards of governors for the three largest public institutions in Michigan, including Wayne State, have been publicly elected since 1850, according to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. This is intended to keep these universities publicly accountable with less opportunity for legislative or executive abuse, according the Michigan State University’s explanation guide.

Shaviro’s statements have come to light at a time of increasing hostility against public figures who support conservative causes.

Riley Gaines, for example, was verbally and physically assaulted at San Francisco State University, and Sofie Salmon of the Leadership Institute, the parent organization of Campus Reform, was attacked on video during a Gaines event at the University of Buffalo in New York.

Similarly, Matt Walsh was compelled to cancel his speaking engagement at Washington and Lee University in Virginia after receiving death threats against himself and his family in the wake of the Nashville Christian school shooting. 

Even far-left progressive Ana Kasparian recognizes that violence in response to conservative ideas is “incredibly unproductive” and that “most minds can be changed through persuasion, through understanding, through engaging in these exchanges,” rather than violence. 

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Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson issued a statement when Shaviro’s statements came to light, noting that the university has “on many occasions defended the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but we feel this post far exceeds the bounds of reasonable or protected speech. It is, at best, morally reprehensible and, at worst, criminal.”

The statements were sent to law enforcement, and Shaviro was suspended with pay pending investigation.

Members of the Board of Governors at Wayne State University are elected to serve eight-year terms. Two seats are up for election in 2024.