Arizona State University revoked a job offer from its incoming journalism school dean after students and faculty accused her of "microaggressions," including a tweet that called some police officers "good."
Sonya Forte Duhé was due to take over as dean of ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on July 1, but her offer was revoked on Monday after former students lodged complaints about comments they perceived as rude. Duhé was also criticized for her #BlackOutTuesday post that called some police officers good, in light of the George Floyd protests.
In a since-deleted tweet, Duhé wrote, "for the family of George Floyd, the good police officers who keep us safe, my students, faculty and staff. Praying for peace on this #BlackOutTuesday." One of Duhé's former students, Whitney Woods, responded by calling the professor racist. "There is no way in hell that black lives matter to you," Woods tweeted. "You are one of, if not, THE most racist human that I have ever encountered in a professional setting." After the tweet, Woods, a black woman, claimed that the former Loyola University-New Orleans (LOYNO) professor told her that her hair was too messy for television.
In an article for the State Press, ASU's student newspaper, 23 LOYNO students alleged that Duhé discouraged black students from pursuing television careers because of their appearances. One student, Andrew Ketchum, claimed Duhé criticized his voice because he is gay. Ketchum could not be reached for comment.
Duhé did not respond to a request for comment.
According to a report from AZ Central, prominent faculty members—including veterans of the Washington Post and New York Times—sent a letter to university president Michael Crow saying that hiring a dean accused of racism and mistreatment would harm the journalism school's reputation and finances. Several faculty members threatened to leave if Duhé became dean. Faculty who signed the letter either did not respond or declined requests for comment.
The Arizona State standoff emerged as prestige newsrooms have faced upheaval from young journalists and activists. Liberal New York Times staff members launched an open revolt against management after the newspaper published an op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. — a conflict that led to a public apology from newspaper executives and the resignation of opinion page editor James Bennet. ASU administrators bowed to similar demands from students and professors.