WSU professor resigns after posting tweets that university says ‘promoted violence’
“The public fury is too great. I have to resign immediately,’ professor Scott Senjo said
SALT LAKE CITY — A Weber State University professor whose tweets following the death of George Floyd “promoted violence and caused safety concerns” according to university officials, has resigned.
Administrators had placed tenured criminal justice professor Scott Senjo on administrative leave to conduct a review. The tweets were posted on his personal Twitter account.
In an email sent to his department chairman and college dean on Wednesday, Senjo wrote:
“I studied the situation and the public fury is too great. I have to resign immediately. There’s no other option.”
In a statement, the university said it did not ask for his resignation. But in a subsequent email to media outlets, Senjo said he was ordered to resign his position due to his “irresponsible tweeting activity over the last several months.
“I agree that my tweets were far beyond the realm of acceptable university policy as well as acceptable social norms. I made those tweets in the oftentimes vulgar, extreme back-and-forth that can occur on Twitter and they were simply wrong. I apologize for my irresponsible behavior and resign my position, effective immediately.”
Meanwhile, WSU’s statement said: “The Twitter posts in question were hurtful and inconsistent with the values of Weber State University and our work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment. We know the views expressed in these tweets make many of our students and members of our campus community feel isolated or unsupported,” WSU’s statement says.
“We appreciate the outpouring of emails and social media posts from our students, alumni and colleagues who shared their concerns. We remain committed to creating a campus environment where all are welcome, heard, valued and supported.”
Senjo’s tweets were earlier described by university officials as “abhorrent” and inconsistent with the university’s values.
Senjo, who taught at Weber State University for 20 years, acknowledged he is responsible for the tweets, “but I don’t stand by them and will have to suffer the consequences of my recklessness,” he told the Deseret News late Tuesday.
“I made those tweets in the sordid atmosphere of Twitter knife fights where sarcastic put downs and tasteless humor are often the norm. I failed to respect my role as a college professor in the hyper-emotional atmosphere of the recent police brutality protests. I apologize for my Twitter contributions. In the aggregate, they reflect a great deal of ugliness,” he wrote.
The professor posted provocative tweets commenting on protests and news media in the aftermath of the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25.
Some tweets were aimed at news organizations or journalists.
Responding to a tweet by Wall Street Journal reporter Tyler Blint-Welsh, who tweeted his ankle was injured and glasses knocked off when he was reportedly struck in the face by New York City police multiple times with riot shields despite wearing a press credential and holding his hands up, Senjo tweeted:
“Excellent. If I was the cop, you wouldn’t be able to tweet.”
In another tweet, @ProfSenjo referred to protesters vandalizing the CNN building in Atlanta, saying: “Nothing about this makes me happy but there’s this tiny sense of rightness in the burning of the CNN headquarters.”
Still another addressed a widely viewed video of New York Police Department vehicles that plowed into a crowd of protesters.
The tweet said: “That’s not how I would have driven the car into the crowd.”
The account no longer exists.
More than 2,300 people had signed an online petition calling for Senjo’s ouster.
A Change.org petition posted Sunday says in part: “His tweets go against freedom of speech and diversity of opinion as he is pushing for violence against press, as well as people of color. Criminal justice students at Weber deserve better. Students of color at Weber deserve better. This is a call for Weber State University to do better and be better by firing Scott Senjo.”
Senjo holds a number of advanced degrees, including a doctorate from Florida Atlantic University and a law degree and master’s degree in public policy and administration from the University of Utah. He earned his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
An earlier statement by Weber State University President Brad Mortensen said in part that the university stands “with peaceful protesters in Ogden and across the globe and call for change: an end to racism, an end to oppression and intolerance, an end to violence. I call upon all members of our campus community to join me in pursuing a calm, respectful, yet urgent path.”