Students at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York are demanding that a professor be fired simply because the academic attended a local pro-police rally.
David Peterson, 61, has been teaching at Skidmore for 31 years, and he told the Times-Union that he decided to attend a “Back the Blue” event in Congress Park in late July because of “civic interest and curiosity.”
The event had been described on Facebook as a peaceful protest that was meant to show “law enforcement that they are valued, loved, respected and appreciated.” The publication stated that the “the Petersons arrived at a little after 7 p.m., watched from the edge of the crowd as ‘Back the Blue’ supporters and counter-protesters traded barbs, then departed to get dinner after about 20 minutes.”
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“Neither [Peterson nor his wife] thought much of it,” the outlet added.
Students, however, were enraged. When Skidmore classes resumed in the fall, Peterson found that there was already a campaign in motion to get him fired.
“I and other Skidmore students witnessed Profs. David Peterson and Andrea Peterson at an anti-Black Lives Matter protest,” stated an email that has been going around campus. “We demand the immediate dismissal of both Skidmore staff members for engaging in hateful conduct that threatens Black Skidmore students.” (It should be noted that Peterson’s wife is not a member of the school’s faculty.”
When Peterson arrived at his classroom one day, he was met with a note taped on the door that read, “STOP. By entering this class you are crossing a campus-wide picket line and breaking the boycott against Professor David Peterson.”
The note went on to vaguely accuse Peterson of sexism and transphobia before adding, “This is not a safe environment for marginalized students … by continuing to take this course you are enabling bigoted behavior on this campus.”
Peterson, however, has refused to back down and allow himself to be “cancelled.”
“What’s troubling is the mob mentality,” he said. “All of a sudden, you have all these people who hate your guts and they know nothing about you.”
Instead of standing by the longtime faculty member, the university has tried to toe the line by launching an investigation. A Skidmore College spokesman said that while the school has “unequivocal support” for First Amendment rights, it is also “committed to fostering a working and learning environment in which all its members can flourish.”