A political-economy professor at Rhodes College is criticizing the school’s decision to hire Zandria Robinson, the former University of Memphis professor who made headlines this week for a series of controversial tweets about white people.
John E. Murray said in an interview with National Review on Thursday that the school has been pushing hard for intense social-justice related reforms since last August — when it discovered that some people near the school had made racially insensitive comments on Yik Yak, a social-media app that allows users to make anonymous posts that other people in the area can see.
Since the program is anonymous, Murray says, there’s no way to know for sure whether or not the racially insensitive ones were posted by students or by other residents of Memphis.
And if the school really did want to crack down on racist attitudes, he says, hiring Robinson seemed like a perverse way to go about doing it.
“I can tell you in part why I think some of the faculty, at least some of my friends, are a little upset about this,” he says. “Whatever the students said on Yik Yak – if they were in fact students – doesn’t really sound like it’s all that different from what Robinson said on her Twitter feed. On one, the college gets flak for being racist, in the other case, the lady gets a job.”
Faculty unsettled by the hiring “in the minority, and there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it,” he says. “It does seem kind of crazy that we’re inviting a person to come teach on our faculty who seems to dislike a chunk of our students.”
‘It does seem kind of crazy that we’re inviting a person to come teach on our faculty who seems to dislike a chunk of our students.’
According to the University of Memphis, Robinson resigned from her job at the school weeks ago — not immediately following the recent controversy, as some news outlets have suggested.
University of Memphis communications coordinator Gaby Maxey told National Review that Robinson “turned in her resignation” on June 11.
Robinson, however, had also been the subject of an earlier controversy regarding posts she made on Facebook last fall in which she threatened to come after anyone who even thought that minority students get accepted to graduate programs based on their race. Those posts made headlines after being reported by Campus Reform on June 5.
#related#A representative from Rhodes College’s communications department, Ken Woodmansee, told NR that he could not confirm when Robinson accepted the job at the school, but that he did know she would be starting in January.
In a statement announcing Robinson’s hire, Rhodes College highlighted the fact that Robinson’s “comments are sometimes provocative, controversial, and debatable.”
“This situation ultimately shines a light on Rhodes as a place where intellectual engagement and the exchange of ideas are among our highest priorities,” it continued.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.