A business school professor at the $48,600/year Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., has been suspended after students complained he made “racist” tweets about Barack Obama and Kamala Harris
What We Know:
- John Tieso, adjunct professor at the University’s Busch School of Business was suspended Monday after the school says it received complaints about the Twitter comments he made about Obama and Harris.
- Tieso has fired back that he did not recall the criticism of Obama when he made a 2018 trip to Africa and that his comments about Harris were based on history.
- The Twitter account was removed after a meeting with an administrator to discuss allegations of “racially-charged” speech earlier this month, a spokesperson for the school said.
- One of the tweets, posted July 18, 2018, was a retweeted photo of Obama and criticism of the former president for complaining about his wealth while visiting “one of the poorest countries” during a visit to Africa.
- In a second, more recent tweet made on May 5, Tieso wrote about Harris. In the social media post, he described the U.S. senator and former Democratic presidential candidate, whose parents are from Jamaica and India, as a “former escort,” the College Fix reports. It was a reference to an accusation Harris has faced for most of her political career: that she dated Willie Brown, the former speaker of the California Assembly, a married man twice her age to get an edge on her entry into politics.
- Tieso declined to be interviewed and said he was the victim of a “biased witch hunt”. He later told the College Fix that he could not remember the Obama tweet among thousands he had made and that his comments about Harris were based on history.
- Tieso took his Twitter account down in the days leading up to this week’s suspension and insists it was never associated with the school, which is following up on the investigation. Tieso wrote in his final tweet, “Several people have claimed in my tweets that I am racist – which I certainly am not and would not give such an impression.” The professor had composed nearly 100,000 tweets.
- Tieso says he was told additional complaints, including some from alumni, had been received about his Twitter comments by the school. “I love the school and students,” he said. “I’ve had Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims in my classes, and I’ve treated each of them the same. They are my students.”
CUA’s social media policy says it only applies to faculty who associate their university affiliation with their comments, which Tieso did not. It urges further caution for “persons in leadership roles,” which excludes adjuncts such as Tieso.