Students at Drexel University staged a sit-in to protest the removal of a professor who was suspended by the university after claiming “white entitlement” was the basis for the horrific shooting that killed nearly 60 people and wounded more than 500 during a country music festival at the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 2nd.
According to the campus newspaper, students from professor George Ciccariello-Maher’s race and politics class staged a sit-in at the office suite of Drexel Provost M. Brian Blake in response to the university’s decision to place Ciccariello-Maher on administrative leave following a series of tweets in which he blamed the shooting on a “narrative of white victimization.”
When asked about their reasons for staging the protest, students said they were standing up for justice and called the professor’s suspension a response to a “smear campaign” and threats from the alt-right.
“We’re here demanding that he be reinstated and that Drexel begin to treat this as something that is important for other universities and set a precedent for how universities around the country are going to deal with alt-right threats and smear campaigns against professors,” said Dakota Peterson, a political science student in one of Ciccariello-Maher’s classes.
According to onlookers, the sit-in lasted approximately five hours but did not produce any meaningful conversation with Provost Blake. Students returned to his office the following day, where Blake eventually did exit and promised to return, but instead left for a series of meetings. Attendees said Blake exited his office indicating that he would shortly return, but instead, he left the building for an extended period of time.
In response, a number of students followed the provost to a local town hall, which was publicly scheduled. When they arrived at the meeting, however, they were warned by campus police that they would be subject to student disciplinary action if they attempted to enter the building.
This is not the first time professor Ciccariello-Maher has courted controversy. He has previously expressed his support of communism and once tweeted “All I want for Christmas is white genocide,” drawing condemnation from a number of university officials.
John Patrick (@john_pat_rick) is a graduate of Canisius College and Georgia Southern University. He interned for Red Alert Politics during the summer of 2012 and has continued to contribute regularly.