New Calls For Termination of Saidi Grundy After Disclosure of Prior Criminal Impersonation Of Another Woman

GrundyPic-150x150Boston_University_seal.svgThere are new calls for the termination of incoming Boston University sociology professor Saida Grundy after disclosure that she has a criminal record from Michigan. Grundy has become the best known academic at BU before even starting her academic career at the institution . . . for all the worst reasons. However, at the risk of being called an apologist, I again believe that this is not grounds for termination and that BU should allow Grundy to assume her teaching post.

The first calls for her termination came after it was disclosed that Grundy used Twitter to denounce white men as the central problem population at universities and described how she tries not to do business with white people. After an outcry from alumni, Boston University president Robert Brown expressed “disappointment” with her statements and Grundy herself apologized for what she called “indelicate” wording. New calls were heard after it came out that Grundy attacked a white woman and rape victim on Facebook who expressed her personal feelings over an article criticizing actress Patricia Arquette for her call at the Oscars for equal pay for women.

On both occasions, I wrote that I would have had great reservations about hiring Grundy on a faculty but that, as a current professor, she should be afforded the protection of free speech in making controversial and even racist comments. These controversies highlight a long-standing debate that we have had over the increasing trend toward firing people for their speech on social media and associations in their private lives. This can range from teachers posting vacation pictures to obnoxious employees engaged in sexist or offensive comments.

In this case, you have an actual crime but it was presumably disclosed (if it was not, that would clearly be grounds for termination). In 2008, Grundy admitted that she used multiple pictures of another woman to create a fake account on an adult website in a jealous rage over the woman dating a former boyfriend of Grundy. She was a graduate student at the University of Michigan at the time. Grundy was charged with felony counts of identity theft and using computers to commit a crime as well as a misdemeanor count of malicious use of a telecommunications service.

She eventually pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor count in exchange for the dismissal of the felonies and given probation until June 2009.

Frankly, I was a bit surprised that the severity of the charges in a case of an obvious jealous rage. This was not done for financial or pecuniary benefit. It was stupid and was legitimately reported to the police. The sounds like the type of count stacking that prosecution engage in to force people to plead, though there was probably little need for coercion in this case. It remains a simple misdemeanor committed years ago. As long as it was disclosed, I would not view that crime as a barrier to employment.

None of this changes my view that BU is legitimately under scrutiny for the original hiring decision of someone who has such obvious anger issues and holds what appear racist and sexist views. If those issues were not raised during the hiring process, the question is whether there was an adequate review of Grundy and her history. I would have a great number of questions for someone who holds such views that relate directly to her scholarship and intellectual approach. However, she was hired and I have greater concerns over the disciplining of academics for expressing unpopular views in their academic writings or public commentary.

As I discussed before, there is a contrast in this approach with the rising number of terminations of non-academic employees for public conduct or social media postings. However, in addition to raising concerns about some of those cases, there is the added element of academic freedom that runs to the core of our profession. Academics are given tenure and protections precisely to allow them to challenge conventional thinking or social mores. That sometimes mean that we protect low-grade lows like those of Professor Grundy and others. However, the alternative is a slippery slope of speech regulation for academics that endangers the entire academic enterprise in my view. This issue of speech limitations have become a rising concern on campuses across the country. I would hope that Professor Grundy would be the first to come to the defense of an academic who uses the same freedom to criticize African-Americans as she has criticized whites as in the case of the Duke professor. Indeed, that is one academic paper that I would be eager to read from Professor Grundy once she starts at Boston University in July.

What do you think?

100 thoughts on “New Calls For Termination of Saidi Grundy After Disclosure of Prior Criminal Impersonation Of Another Woman”

  1. @ bam bam

    No, Once I express my desire, in the form of either spoken or written words, to assault or murder someone, I have NOT, in fact, committed a crime. The stating of desire, while certainly admissible as evidence if such a crime occurs, is not criminal. It requires a credible statement of intent and, in the case of either conspiracy or incitement, a reasonable belief that words would be both listened to and engender action upon them.

    It is still legal to say you want to harm someone. It’s just not legal to make a credible threat to do so.

    The above is all, however, practically limited to statement against Whites, Christians, Heterosexuals, and other normative communities and individuals. This is because “hate crime” and “civil rights” laws have much broader scope and only applicable when used against the aforementioned communities. This is turn is largely because “hate crime” and “civil rights” laws are heavily predicated upon an extreme level of credulity when it comes to threats against individuals possessed of one of the “protected traits.”

  2. bigfatmike … you make a good point on the implication of as hominems. I’ll try harder to scroll on by them. When they fill a thread, I’m gone, for a while at least, not because I can’t handle it, but because they bore me.

  3. I can, and will vouch for both Aridog and BFM. Two solid, righteous, good hearted, intelligent, people. As w/ many miscommunication on blogs, it’s because we are not able to see body language, hear intonation, inflection, etc. Over 80% of all communication is nonverbal. I hate the telephone for interviewing witnesses, but it is much better than this format. Ari has gotten fed up w/ the trolls and the constant middle school banter that is about all some people are capable of using. He took a brief hiatus and has returned w/ some trepidations. The blog is better w/ both he and BFM.

  4. @Ari: “If Issac and I, among some others, who agree on a few things and disagree on many, can converse without animosity and rancor, I see no reasons others cannot do the same.”

    Whether it is you or Nick or many others, I hardly agree with anyone on this site. But it is always a pleasure to exchange points of view. Usually we manage to keep it civil which is the way it ought to be.

  5. Some one another thread asked me, more or less [paraphrasing now], if I would personally regret and apologize for the evils done to slaves by white owners? Of course I would, and it is one of those things I had a hard time grasping in our history, so yes, there is residual guilt for the past, but I live in the now.

  6. Karen S … why thank you for your remark. Some might question how calm I am, rightly so, but I do hope I’m reasonable.

  7. bigfatmike …. one more thing: If Issac and I, among some others, who agree on a few things and disagree on many, can converse without animosity and rancor, I see no reasons others cannot do the same. The snide distractions tend to wreck a thread when allowed and are “un-civil” in my opinion.

  8. bigfatmike … I agree with you in general, however, I dislike ad hominems when used for no good reason, of which there very few. I am now and old and cranky guy, and came back because the usual flurry of nonsense seemed to have decreased markedly. I don’t mind using the scroll key, I use it a lot.

    1. OK, but you don’t seem to be laughing – which is important on a site like this one.

      On the other hand there is a positive side to ad hominems – they tell the reader the author of the ad hominem does not have an argument and his position is likely total BS.

      Ad hominems are a sort of big red flag announcing for all to see ‘warning this author doesn’t have a clue’ or ‘the reader can safely skip this and not miss a thing’.

      If rigorous debaters are the carnivores of the site then ad hominems are natures warning sign ‘big slow turkey in the road ahead’.

  9. Susan – Sorry for your experience. That sounds scary.

    There have been several recent articles about women who were set up for rape by vengeful exes who put their name on adult escort sites with the description that they liked it rough. These women had hundreds of men come to their homes all day and night. They were traumatized and in serious danger.

    That is why I questioned that mention of Professor Grundy impersonating a woman on an “adult site.” What kind of adult site? Was she, too, advertising an innocent woman’s sexual services with her home information? Was it an attempt to harm her, or just humiliate her? Either can be very damaging, and is not an innocent act.

    It matters, because if this woman tried to get another woman assaulted, I want to know if this was disclosed. If so, what the heck was the university thinking? If not, immediate termination, because she may be a danger to students.

  10. I have been a victim of online impersonation and can say it’s incredibly traumatic when it’s done in certain ways and motivations. I know my stalker/impersonator did it to another woman both online and in person and was scarred by the experience, although the authorities in the situation took her under their wing and minimized the damage (I’m not talking police, just the grad school she was attending).

    Grundy’s actions aren’t quite in the same dimension as they’re motivated for different reasons and had more discreet consequences, but they express a serious violation of a person’s most basic human rights nonetheless. People seem to underestimate the power of the internet, and the responsibilities that go with using it. Perhaps there should be degrees or dimensions of criminal impersonation, like we have for crimes of murder. But to hire someone in a field where recognition of personal boundaries of ‘self’ are so paramount seems misguided, so I’m not surprised Ms. Gundy has brought BU so much embarrassment and scandal before even officially ‘teaching’ there.

  11. forgotwhoiam … I did not say your remark wasn’t free speech. I indicated it was an unnecessary ad hominem written for no valid reason based upon Professor Aronson’s words. I’ll not petition for anything on this or any other site. When remarks like you made by distorting the man’s name appear, I can ignore them usually. Your use was egregious but within your rights to say them. If this place again devolves in to a bundle of pejoratives and ad hominems, I am also free to leave. No “petition” necessary.

    1. ” I am also free to leave. No “petition” necessary.”

      Oh come on Ari. There you go getting emotional and over responsive again.

      You don’t have to leave. They invented the scroll button on the browser so you can whiz by comments like that. If you scroll fast enough it is as though they aren’t even their. But really Ari, why would you want to scroll them by? Reading the nut-jobs is half the laughs.

  12. Mr. Dog, by all means, please petition to have free speech censored on this site. And thank you for reading.

  13. forgotwhoiam …that’s cute ad hominem you used. How clever. It is also why the Professor said he rarely comments on blogs. I quit here before and I will again if crap like you fling continues. I assure you no one will miss me much. I am sure everyone is fascinated by your unique view of everything. Have at it.

  14. Rob Aren’tson, you appear to be confusing “white” with American. Your meaning is not clear. Are you referring to Americans or a particular racial identity throughout the world? If you are referring to Americans, please don’t use the degrading “W”-WORD diminishing an American to a “WHITE.” I presume your apology and accept it. If you find a need to hyphenate your own description, you have my condolences but the Founders presumed that people would adapt to and live with the consequences of freedom when they constituted freedom and free enterprise without interference by government as our “blessings of liberty.” Before which, of course they limited government to its role of Justice, Tranquility, Common Defence, Promoted General Welfare (roads, utilities, etc.), which I’m fully confident that you are not only aware of but have read with your own eyes. – the Founders did write that for you to read and believe, not to ignore.

  15. Professor Robert Aronson … you cite a concern I have for today’s college environment. In my olden days of the 1960’s the student discrimination did not happen except in a few select courses, which I have said we could shop away from usually. I received A’s from two card carrying Communists back in those days because they didn’t grade me my opinions, but on how well I supported them. One of them, in a seminar style class, even told me that I should become a propagandist because although he disagreed with my opinions, he gave me respect for my arguments. I was both surprised and flattered.

  16. DBQ:

    “They screwed up by hiring her in the first place. Now they have to figure out how to get rid of her without getting embroiled in a nasty controversy and likely have other racist students agitating and creating chaos.”

    First, I find that in academia, racism against whites is considered avant guard. It’s the well documented double standard. Unless she hid her racism in her published works, the university would have been well aware of her opinions, and is just doing PR damage control.

    I also wonder if they would be able to choose not to renew her contract without a lawsuit. That is my hope, that she is not immediately fired for her speech outside of work, but that the unsuitability of their hiring decision leads them not to renew her contract.

    I agree with Professor Turley about free speech protections, even when they are hard. I hope that they scrutinize her class to ensure her racism does not affect how she treats or grades students, and that her classroom is not a hostile environment.

    Stealing the identity of the new girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend shows a serious lack of judgement and stability. Professor Turley remarked that it was on an adult website. Was she advertising the victim as an escort, which could have led to her rape? Or just trying to humiliate her? Either raises very serious questions about the safety of a professor. Would she do the same to a student?

    I hope the boosters and alumni severely reprimand this university on their hiring practices. If there are no repercussions, they will continue to hire unsuitable professors to teach our young people.

  17. She should have been terminated the moment her views and speech were known. If she’d been White and expressing the opposing viewpoint, i.e., saying essentially the same things about Black males, she would have been. Sadly, however, “free speech” and “civil rights” are only applied when it favors minorities and Blacks especially are held to much lower standard of behavior.

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