UPDATE: Scott Senjo has resigned from Weber State University, he said Wednesday in an email to KSL. Read the full story here.
SALT LAKE CITY — A Weber State University professor whose tweets following the death of George Floyd were described by university officials as “abhorrent” has been relieved of his duties, removed from teaching classes and is on administrative leave.
Scott Senjo, tenured criminal justice professor who taught at Weber State University for 20 years, confirmed his employment status in an email sent late Tuesday.
“It is more than likely that I’ll need to resign,” he wrote.
WSU officials said on Tuesday that the “abhorrent” social media posts were under investigation and are inconsistent with the school’s values.
The professor posted provocative tweets commenting on protests and news media in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25.
Some tweets were aimed at news organizations or journalists.
Responding to a tweet by Wall Street Journal reporter Tyler Blint-Welsh, who tweeted his ankle was injured and glasses knocked off when he was reportedly struck in the face by New York City police multiple times with riot shields despite wearing a press credential and holding his hands up, Senjo responded:
“Excellent. If I was the cop, you wouldn’t be able to tweet.”
In another tweet, @ProfSenjo referred to protesters vandalizing the CNN building in Atlanta, saying: “Nothing about this makes me happy but there’s this tiny sense of rightness in the burning of the CNN headquarters.”
Still another addressed a widely viewed video of New York Police Department vehicles that plowed into a crowd of protesters.
The tweet said: “That’s not how I would have driven the car into the crowd.”
The account no longer exists.
More than 1,800 people have signed an online petition calling Senjo’s ouster.
A Change.org petition posted Sunday says in part: “His tweets go against freedom of speech and diversity of opinion as he is pushing for violence against press, as well as people of color. Criminal justice students at Weber deserve better. Students of color at Weber deserve better. This is a call for Weber State University to do better and be better by firing Scott Senjo.”
It notes, “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.”
When asked for comment, Senjo wrote in an email that he was responsible for the tweets. “But 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.”
I apologize for my Twitter contributions. In the aggregate, they reflect a great deal of ugliness.
Senjo is a tenured professor who holds a number of advanced degrees, including a doctorate from Florida Atlantic University and a law degree and master’s degree in public policy and administration from the University of Utah. He earned his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
WSU spokeswoman Allison Barlow Hess said Tuesday that the university is aware of the petition and officials “are hearing many comments from all perspectives, through social media, email and phone. Most of them express anger at the Twitter posts. The posts were abhorrent and inconsistent with the values of Weber State University and our work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment.”
A statement by Weber State University President Brad Mortensen said in part that the university stands “with peaceful protesters in Ogden and across the globe and call for change: an end to racism, an end to oppression and intolerance, an end to violence. I call upon all members of our campus community to join me in pursuing a calm, respectful, yet urgent path.”