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University Professor Forced to Resign Over Pro-Trump Facebook Comment

A university program director was forced to resign from his post over a Facebook comment which caused outrage among anti-Trump students on campus.

Following a student protest at the University of Rochester in upstate New York, a program director made an arguably pro-Trump joke and the students pounced on him. The protest had a "Not My America" theme, so Ted Pawlicki quipped, "A bus ticket from Rochester to Canada is $16. If this is not your America, then I will pay for your ticket if you promise never to come back."

Pawlicki, who until Friday served as undergraduate program director in the Department of Computer Science, posted the comment on a #NotMyAmerica Facebook page associated with the protest. Shortly after the program director posted the comment, the student Caleb Krieg responded, "I have reported this as a bias incident report."

"This is why women and minorities don't feel welcome in the computer science department," wrote another student, Bethany Gardner. Pawlicki had not made any reference to race or sex in his comment, and this response reveals more bias from the student than from the professor.

"It was intended to be humorous, actually," Pawlicki told the Democrat and Chronicle. "Moving to Canada (in reaction to presidential election outcomes) has been a joke since the Reagan administration. I didn't intend it to be malicious, certainly. I don't think there's anything malicious about it, either." After all, the party was themed "Not My America," so it is reasonable to play off that theme.

Nevertheless, facing pressure, Pawlicki issued an apology letter. "I apologize for my Facebook post of Thursday, November 10th. Those remarks were ill-considered and I deeply regret any and all hurt they occasioned," the professor wrote. He insisted that his opinions on Facebook only represented him and not the University of Rochester. "Please also be assured that I am absolutely dedicated to the equality of all people."

On Friday, he stepped down. "After reflecting on the impact my remarks have had on students, and following consultation with Dr. Wendi Heinzelman, Dean of Hajim School, and Dr. Sandhya Dwarkadas, Chair of Computer Science, I have decided to step down from the position of Undergraduate Program Director for Computer Science," he wrote in an email statement.

Pawlicki had directed the program for 18 years, and he told the Democrat and Chronicle "I love the job." He will continue in his role as a senior lecturer, an untenured teaching faculty position.

This forced resignation proves particularly ironic, as it follows the unforgivable sin of a joke that took the students' slogans seriously. Many celebrities had promised to move to Canada were Trump to win (and failed to fulfill their promises, alas), and it should not constitute hate speech to acknowledge this cultural tidbit.

Next Page: Did the "safe space" bullies accept his apology? Prepare to be disappointed.