COGS: Harreld comments that unprepared teachers ‘should be shot’ are a threat to university safety

In a statement released today, the union representing graduate student workers at the University of Iowa (COGS) responded to UI President Bruce Harreld’s Dec. 9 remarks to UI staff council that unprepared instructors should be shot.

President Harreld described his comments in an email to librarian Lisa Gardinier as “an unfortunate off-the-cuff remark,” the Associated Press reports.

In the statement, the union contends that the President’s comments constitute “a threat — an act of violence against — the University community as a whole.”

Read the full statement here:

On December 9, Bruce Harreld said, at a Staff Council meeting, that unprepared lecturers, “Should be shot.” This statement is not simply a flippant, rhetorical remark. It is a threat—an act of violence against—the University community as a whole, and particularly against workers in their workplace.

Gun violence has reached epidemic levels in the United States, particularly on school campuses. Our own University was the site of a mass shooting which resulted in the deaths of six people. Harreld’s statement displays not only a callous disdain for the members of this community, it shows an appalling disregard for this campus’ history.

Furthermore, Harreld violated the University’s policy against violent threats, as well as the Regents’ anti-violence guidelines.

It is not acceptable for Harreld to dismiss the statement with a casual apology to a single individual after making a violent threat against all of the University’s lecturers during an official performance of his duties on campus. His offending statement and flippant response are but one clear example of Harreld’s inability to function adequately or behave appropriately in the role of University President.

Violent speech has no place on this campus and it is particularly egregious coming from someone in Harreld’s post. COGS condemns Harreld’s statement promoting violence and threatening the University’s workforce. We stand in solidarity with teachers who feel threatened and are committed to creating and maintaining the University as a safe space. Therefore, COGS demands that Harreld forfeits his position as President in light of the threat that he poses to the campus community.

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