Conservatives are accustomed to stories about liberal college professors going off on rants about President Trump and his supporters. In an unusual twist, a Virginia Wesleyan University professor is under fire for delivering a rant of his own on Facebook. He exercised his First Amendment right to free speech on his personal Facebook page, exploding against any Biden voters that may be following him on social media.
That’s the twist – a college professor voted for Trump and is angry about the election results, apparently, so he is taking it out on any Biden voters who may have friended him on Facebook. This is the stuff that the intolerant left does on social media, rarely conservatives. Nonetheless, Professor Paul Ewell wants Biden voters to know he wants nothing to do with them. He wants Facebook friends to unfriend him if they voted for Joe Biden.
Ewell isn’t just some random professor. Paul Ewell joined the full-time staff of the university in 2008. He is a professor of management, business and economics, director of the school’s MBA program, and dean of the VWU Global Campus. The university has historically been associated with the Methodist denomination. VWU is a small, private liberal arts and sciences university located in Virginia Beach. He blasted Biden voters as “ignorant, anti-American and anti-Christian”.
‘Please, please help me with something. If you voted for Joe Biden, please unfriend me. Or, reply that you are a Democrat and I will unfriend you. If you were ignorant, anti-American, and anti-Christian enough to vote for Biden, I really don’t want to be your social friend on social media. I wouldn’t hang out with you in real life, I don’t want to hang out with you virtually either. You have corrupted the election. You have corrupted our youth. You have corrupted our country. I have standards and you don’t meet them. Please remove yourself.”
He has since taken down the post and made his Facebook account a private one. Given the university’s association with a religious denomination and today’s political atmosphere, you will not be surprised to learn that blowback was swift. The university quickly distanced itself from the professor/dean’s screed as screenshots of the Facebook post circulated.
‘The University is aware of a recent comment made on social media by a member of the campus community. These views and opinions are expressly the individual’s own. Civic engagement and religious freedom are at the core of the University’s values, and we remain an inclusive and caring community that empowers meaningful relationships through listening, understanding, and communication.’
Commenters on Facebook expect Ewell to be canceled now. Universities are not exactly bastions of free-thinking these days. While we may not agree that this was the best use of Ewell’s First Amendment rights, especially given his professional career, he is, nonetheless, entitled to express himself and choose with whom he is friends on his own Facebook page. Angry people don’t always make rational decisions. He evidently realizes he used poor judgment because he has removed the post and turned his Facebook account into a private one.
‘How is Professor Ewell supposed to gain the trust of his students when they now know he considers most of them anti-American and anti-Christian?’ asked Ben Abrahamse.
‘Simply put, if this is your staff, then inclusiveness is not what you practice. This was not a political statement. It was a statement based in hate and it is hatred for the students,’ added Hayden Christopher Jones.
‘He leads your business school for God’s sake! He needs to go,’ wrote Scott Nassl.
Almost a thousand similar comments peppered the University’s Facebook page on Sunday night with the majority questioning how such a.’high-ranking, high-profile member’ of the university’s administration could remain in his post calling his original post ‘unacceptable’ and ’embarrassing.’
The university is dealing with this situation internally.
Alumni are threatening to withhold donations. Parents are reconsidering enrolling their kids. Students are pondering a protest.
Stephanie Smaglo, a VWU spokeswoman, said that while the university “cannot speak to personnel matters, this incident is being addressed through our internal processes and policies.”
Smaglo, in emails to the newspaper, said the university confirmed that “the faculty member who made the original post has issued an apology on Facebook.”
Ewell’s supporters say the professor made it a habit to not discuss politics in class. The university’s social media policy cautions faculty members about posting personal opinions. The handbook says they should “keep in mind nothing is truly private in social media. Consider your comments, photos or shared content carefully before posting. If it’s something you wouldn’t want shared or re-posted for a broad audience, it is best not to share it in the first place.”
President Trump tweeted out his support of the professor/dean yesterday.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020
It’s really unusual for a conservative professor to snap on social media. It’s an unexpected twist to a story that usually goes the other way, with liberal professors losing their minds. It’s isn’t good from either side, especially in university communities. We need to get back to college campuses being places that encourage and teach students to learn to reason for themselves. The fact that most campuses only allow one point of view is destructive to our political system in general but to budding future policymakers and politicians in particular.