ORLANDO, Fla. — A UCF professor who recently tweeted that "black privilege is real" is being denounced by the university, which is weighing next steps while respecting free-speech rights, it said.
What You Need To Know
- UCF: Psychology professor's tweets were "racist comments"
- Twitter hashtag "#UCFfirehim" was trending in US at one point
- He said "black privilege is real"; UCF is reviewing next steps
Charles Negy, an associate professor in the psychology department, drew fire on social media after tweeting Wednesday night that "Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships and other set asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege. But as a group, they're missing out on much needed feedback."
After that, the Twitter hashtag #UCFfirehim was trending in the U.S.
Negy, who joined UCF in 1998, told Spectrum News 13 on Thursday that "I've been saying things for 10 to 15 years, and now people are on Twitter addressing the riots and police brutality. if you don't have certain views aligning with certain ideology, their reaction is to attack you."
"What astonishes me is there are people who proclaim they want civil rights, but they seem unconcerned if they violate the civil rights of other people," Negy said. "There are social groups who profess they are all for civil rights, but if I don't agree with their views, they are willing to violate my civil rights."
Brandon Nightingale, a UCF graduate and an African-American, thinks free speech is no excuse for what he considers racism.
"To see this hatred and this speech he’s been spitting out," Nightingale said. "I have a problem with it and that’s why I took to my social media accounts."
Nightingale wants UCF to review their hiring process.
"What measures are we taking to hire these professors?: Nightingale said. "Specifically UCF — how are we vetting these people?"
Eva Oliveri is a senior at UCF and took Negy’s psychology course. She said Negy’s Twitter comments reflect his classroom teachings.
"It was almost the worst kept secret in a way,” Oliveri said.
She says she regrets not speaking up. Oliveri says this has been a teachable moment for her. She’s now created the Change.org petition “UCF: Fire Psychology Professor Charles Negy”.
UCF objected to Negy's tweets in a statement Thursday and said officials were discussing next steps.
Negy's "recent personal Twitter posts... are completely counter to UCF’s values," the university said. "We are reviewing this matter further while being mindful of the First Amendment."
UCF declined to say whether it's received complaints about Negy in the past.
At a town hall Thursday on the coronavirus, UCF President Alexander Cartwright said any investigation into Negy would be focused on whether his views translated into discriminatrion in the classroom or on campus.
Interim Provost Michael Johnson on Thursday said faculty members have the right, under the principle of academic freedom, to hold and teach unpopular views.
"But that does not make what Dr. Negy said on Twitter any less vile," Johnson said.
Johnson said no student should feel they were treated differently because of instructor biases. He asked any current or former students of Negy who experienced any "racist, intolerant or demeaning behavior" in his classroom should let school officials know.
The reports can be made through UCF’s Integrity Line by calling 855-877-6049, or by going to the UCF Integrity Line website.