Coastal Carolina University: Professor Suspended for Criticizing Student Protesters

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Coastal Carolina University

On September 16, 2021, two students of color wrote out the names of other non-white students on a whiteboard after class while brainstorming non-white students with whom to make friends. The next class saw the names and assumed those students were singled out for their race, later holding a protest. When the Theater Department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee sent out an apology email, professor Steven ​​Earnest responded that the objecting students were being overly sensitive. After students called for Earnest’s firing, the university suspended him. FIRE wrote to Coastal Carolina on September 29, reminding the university that professors have the right to speak freely on matters of public concern, but received no response, and FIRE’s Faculty Legal Defense Fund provided Earnest with free legal counsel. Coastal Carolina confirmed on November 18 that Earnest could return to his teaching duties for the Spring 2022 semester.