CONWAY, S.C., Oct. 20, 2021 — Theater students study the principle of the “willing suspension of disbelief,” meaning that in order to enjoy a show, audience members must suspend their critical thinking and believe that the performance onstage is really happening. To make sense of Coastal Carolina University’s outrageous actions, outside observers will have to suspend their critical thinking as well.
Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education calls on Coastal Carolina to reinstate Dr. Steven Earnest, who was suspended from teaching after criticizing student protestors who staged a walkout because they saw the names of students of color written on a whiteboard and mistook the list as malicious. In fact, it turned out to have been a list of students who might want to hang out together.
“I thought I’d seen everything, but my head is still spinning from this case,” said Ronnie London, FIRE’s Faculty Legal Defense Fund vice president. “A professor stands to lose his job for not being sufficiently mad about something that wasn’t meant to cause anger in the first place. Coastal Carolina’s response is not only overly dramatic, but also unconstitutional.”