Campus Group Protests MSU Decision on Penn, As Faculty Considers Social Media Risks

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

It's been a little more than a week since Michigan State Professor William Penn's statements about Republicans went viral.

While it's back to business on the MSU campus, a group called MSU Campus Conservatives hasn't forgotten the in-class rant and protested outside the Board of Trustees meeting, Friday morning.

During the meeting, group President Matthew Bedard told the board Penn's punishment of being reassigned out of his classes wasn't enough.

"It's simply not right, in a learning environment to portray your personal beliefs as fact," said Bedard. "I believe that by placing Professor Penn on paid administrative leave, it sets a bad precedent for the future of MSU."

Since the video went viral, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon says the university is handling the situation carefully, looking at the best interest of its students.

"We believe the actions we've taken to date reflect that value of putting students first," said President Simon.

In the meantime, Simon says, it's brought up questions among faculty.

"Concerns about the capacity to talk about difficult and controversial issues and how do we do that in the right way," she said.

According to faculty liaisons, a committee is being formed to address faculty rights in the classroom and how to act in the age of social media.

"Social media could put a cooling effect on faculty's willingness to handle controversial issues," said Professor William Donohue, who also serves on the university's Committee of Faculty Affairs.

As far as Penn's employment status goes, President Simon says it will not be discussed publicly.

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