SALT LAKE CITY — Weber State University criminal justice professor Scott Senjo has resigned again after a series of threatening tweets regarding national protests related to police brutality and race.
In a media statement, Weber State states Senjo has “permanently separated from the university after resigning. He is no longer employed. The university considers this matter resolved, ending processes that were set in motion on June 1.”
Senjo first resigned when the tweets surfaced and later rescinded his resignation, according to the University.
“The developments surrounding this case have understandably caused a variety of emotions for many members of our campus community. Weber State University is committed to improving our campus culture and our conduct, making our university a place where everyone truly feels valued, supported and included,” said Weber State.
Senjo rescinds resignation
Weber State University said criminal justice professor Scott Senjo has rescinded his resignation, which was tendered June 3.
In a statement sent to KSL Newsradio, WSU President Brad L. Mortensen said that a tenured faculty member has five business days to rescind a resignation.
“With his resignation withdrawn,” Mortensen said, “professor Senjo returned to being on leave and the appropriate parties on campus were notified.
“He remains out of the classroom while the university conducts a review of the impact of his Tweets on university operations.”
Mortensen acknowledged that news of Professor Senjo’s recanting his resignation was “confusing,” but he re-iterated that “the sentiment in those tweets is abhorrent, and we strongly condemn it.”
In the statement, Mortensen tried to balance an individual right to the freedom of expression and due process with the need for a feeling of safety on the WSU campus.
“These values are not intended to conflict;” the statement read, “however, in this instance, it certainly feels that they do for many members of our community, and I want you to know that we hear you.
The tweets in question
In a statement to KSL Professor Scott Senjo said:
The university has ordered me to resign my position due to my irresponsible tweeting activity over the last several months. I agree that my tweets were far beyond the realm of acceptable university policy as well as acceptable social norms. I made those tweets in the oftentimes vulgar, extreme back-and-forth that can occur on Twitter and they were simply wrong. I apologize for my irresponsible behavior and resign my position, effective immediately.
Professor’s original statement to KSL came on the heels of more than 2,100 online signatures of a Change.org petition for the University to fire Senjo after his provocative tweets.
In the notes of the petition, organizers say, “Professor Senjo has repeatedly misused his personal twitter account to promote racially charged violence as well as violence against the press. Weber State University has a long standing tradition of embracing freedom of speech and diversity of opinion. Professor Senjo’s tweets do not represent these values.”
Some of the tweets Senjo allegedly made were aimed in response to news organizations and journalists like Wall Street Journal reporter Tyler Blint Welsh.
Blint-Welsh tweeted that his ankle was injured and glasses knocked by an NYPD officer during his coverage of protests in New York City to which Senjo allegedly responded, “Excellent. If I was the cop, you wouldn’t be able to tweet.”
In another tweet about protests in New York, Senjo reportedly commented on a widely circulated video of New York City Police vehicles driving into a crowd of protesters, “That’s not how I would have driven the car into the crowd.”
In another since-deleted tweet, Senjo also referred to the vandalization of CNN headquarters in Atlanta, “Nothing about this makes me happy but there’s this tiny sense of rightness in the burning of the CNN headquarters.”
Senjo told KSL in an email that he had made those comments, yet no longer stands by them.
“I don’t stand by them and will have to suffer the consequences of my recklessness,” he said.
“I made those tweets in the sordid atmosphere of Twitter knife fights where sarcastic put-downs and tasteless humor are often the norm. I failed to respect my role as a college professor in the hyper-emotional atmosphere of the recent police brutality protests. I apologize for my Twitter contributions. In the aggregate, they reflect a great deal of ugliness.”
Officials with Weber State have called the tweets “abhorrent” and says that they will be conducting an investigation.
The comments made by our faculty member on Twitter are hurtful and inconsistent with the values of Weber State University and our work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment. [1/3]
— Weber State University (@WeberStateU) June 1, 2020
In a statement issued by the University, they say they are taking the matter seriously.
“Weber State University does not condone violence or threats of violence under any circumstance. The comments made by our faculty member are hurtful and inconsistent with the values of Weber State University and our work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment.
“We join with our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends who found these comments to be abhorrent.
“We know these views make many of our students and members of our campus community feel isolated or unsupported. We will reach out to students, faculty, staff and others to provide resources. Students or community members who need support may contact WSU’s Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Adrienne Andrews 801-626-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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