A University of Central Florida professor who posted some controversial tweets following the summer riots will be fired despite having tenure, after the university sought complaints from students against him.
Charles Negy, an associate psychology professor, tweeted that “black privilege is real” following the riots that resulted from the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As The Daily Wire previously reported, UCF couldn’t fire Negy for his tweet, so it opened a massive investigation into his decades-long career to find something it could use to terminate him.
After his tweets, people on Twitter started the hashtag #UCFfirehim, but UCF president Alexander Cartwright bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t fire Negy for the tweet.
“The Constitution restricts our ability to fire him or any other University employee for expressing personal opinions about matters of public concern. This is the law,” Cartwright told the Orlando Sentinel.
Negy’s attorney, Samantha Harris, wrote about his case at Quillette, arguing that since Cartwright couldn’t just fire Negy for the tweet, he asked students and faculty to come forward with accusations of discrimination. Cartwright first addressed Negy’s tweets and then said: “If any student, current or former, believes they may have experienced abusive or discriminatory behavior by any faculty or staff member, we want to know about it. UCF takes every report seriously. Concerns can be reported to UCF’s IntegrityLine, which also takes anonymous complaints.” (Emphasis added.)
As Harris wrote, the “witch hunt” worked:
Since June 4th, a litany (we don’t know the exact number, because they won’t say) of complaints has been lodged against Negy for his classroom pedagogy, for speech that allegedly occurred over a 15-year period from 2005 to 2020. The university charged Negy with discriminatory harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, sex, gender identity/expression, and disability—it is worth noting here that Negy himself is both an ethnic and sexual minority—while providing him with only a handful of “examples” of his alleged wrongdoing. Negy begged for more information prior to his investigative interview so that he might prepare to defend himself, but UCF refused.
Negy then attended an “investigative interview,” at which Harris was present, which lasted four hours and consisted of a UCF investigator continuously grilling Negy “about accusations stemming directly from his classroom pedagogy, having made no effort to weed out the countless accusations that were obviously just critiques of his choice of teaching material.”
“UCF also made no effort to consolidate allegations, repeatedly asking Negy variations of the same question, ad infinitum. And again, virtually all of these questions related directly to Negy’s pedagogy, which deals with unavoidably controversial subjects,” Harris continued. “When Negy, physically and emotionally exhausted after four hours of interrogation, asked if the interview was almost over, we learned that the investigator had not even gotten halfway through her list of accusations. Since he could take no more, another five-hour inquisition was scheduled for the following week.”
It seems UCF found enough information from students that it could use to revoke his tenure and fire him. One of the students the university found to make allegations against Negy said she reported to Negy that one of his teaching assistants sexually assaulted her, the New York Post reported. She claimed Negy said she’d have to fabricate evidence in order to have a case she could take to police, and that she should “pick better friends moving forward.”
Negy has until January 25 to respond to the allegations against him.
Harris provided the Post with a statement regarding the university’s investigation into Negy.
“This pretextual, defamatory investigative report is the latest chapter in UCF’s effort to ruin Dr. Negy — a man with a distinguished 22-year teaching career — because he has become politically inconvenient,” Harris said. “UCF, along with those who solicited and investigated false complaints against him, have violated his rights and defamed him, and will be held accountable in court.”
Harris also said that, during Negy’s interrogation, he was asked to remember 15 years of classroom teaching, and his misremembering was considered to be lying by school investigators.