[Updated (5/12/2015, 7:40 p.m.) with a response from the professor and other editing changes.]
An incoming assistant professor at Boston University who drew sharp criticism for racially charged posts on Twitter about white people said on Tuesday that she regretted that her passion for issues of race had caused her to speak about those issues “indelicately,” The Boston Globe reported.
The professor, Saida Grundy, had used Twitter to criticize white people as agents of oppression, among other things, and described white male students as a “problem population.” Her online remarks prompted a torrent of criticism on several conservative websites this week, and amid the backlash, Ms. Grundy’s supporters used the Twitter hashtags #ISupportSaida and #IStandWithSaida to defend her. She has removed her tweets from public view.
Robert A. Brown, the university’s president, spoke out on the swirling controversy in a public letter issued on Tuesday. “We are disappointed and concerned by statements that reduce individuals to stereotypes on the basis of a broad category such as sex, race, or ethnicity,” Mr. Brown wrote. He added that he believed Ms. Grundy’s remarks “fit this characterization.”
“As a university president,” Mr. Brown continued, “I am accustomed to living in a world where faculty do — and should — have great latitude to express their opinions and provoke discussion. But I also have an obligation to speak up when words become hurtful to one group or another in the way they typecast and label its members. That is why I weigh in on this issue today.”
He went on to caution faculty members not to interpret his remarks as “tantamount to not supporting a new colleague.”
Ms. Grundy, who is scheduled to start her new position in the university’s sociology department on July 1, broke her silence on the controversy on Tuesday afternoon. In a letter to the editor published by the Daily Free Press, the university’s student newspaper, she said that the “inconvenient matter of race” had recently made itself “an unavoidable topic of discussion in our country.”
“I regret that my personal passion about issues surrounding these events led me to speak about them indelicately,” she added. “I deprived them of the nuance and complexity that such subjects always deserve.”
She said she was “unequivocally committed to ensuring that my classroom is a space where all students are welcomed.”