Two Tennessee Tech University professors are under investigation for posting fliers that designated their colleague as a “racist.”
Andrew Smith, an associate professor of English, and Julia Gruber, an associate professor of German, admitted to posting insulting fliers around the school of associate nursing professor and Turning Point USA adviser Andrew Donadio. The fliers condemned the conservative activist group and its “Professor Watchlist,” which ranks how biased and progressive professors are.
The flier read:
This racist college professor thought it would be a great idea to help start a Tennessee Tech chapter for this national hate group, where racist students can unite to harass, threaten, intimidate, and terrorize persons of color, feminists, liberals, and the like, especially their teachers.
Their organization created a national ‘Professor Watchlist’ to harass and intimidate progressive educators, including many women, African-American, and Muslim professors.
In the middle of the flier was a picture of Donadio. The photo was captioned, “Professor Donadio and Turning Point USA: You are on our list. Your hate and hypocrisy are not welcome at Tennessee Tech. No unity with racists. Hate speech is not free speech.”
Smith and Gruber believe that “hate speech” is not protected by the First Amendment, though they are arguing that their criticism and name-calling of a professor is protected by the First Amendment.
The quarrel began in February when the local county school board considered forming a committee to rename Algood Middle School’s mascot from the Redskins to something less “offensive” to Native Americans. When the mascot committee failed to form, Donadio allegedly applauded during a February school board meeting.
Sitting nearby was Gruber, who was in favor of renaming the Redskins mascot. According to Inside Higher Ed, Gruber allegedly went home and texted about the clapping incident with Smith. The two decided to create fliers about Donadio and place them around the nursing school building.
Tennessee Tech declined to comment on the case to Inside Higher Ed, though it claims that the university is “currently following its personnel policy and procedures. No disciplinary action has been taken at this time.”
Despite the ongoing investigation, Smith recently encouraged students to heckle Turning Point USA students and supporters at an event in Nashville with Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens. The Tennessee Star screenshotted a post from Smith that read, “Any of my Nashville Good Trouble crew going to call out these fascists tonight?”
In a separate Facebook post, Gruber accused Donadio of affiliating with the Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist group. Gruber also told the Herald Citizen that she was “relieved” that Donadio did not like being called a racist.
“I am relieved to learn that Mr. Donadio has issues with being called a racist. This tells me that he does not identify as one,” Gruber said. “I would therefore like to extend an invitation to him to help us in our anti-racist activities on campus and in our community.”