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February 26, 2010, 03:39 PM ET

East Stroudsburg U. Suspends Professor for Facebook Posts

Gloria Y. Gadsden, an associate professor of sociology at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, was escorted off the campus on Wednesday because of jokes she had made on her Facebook page about wanting to kill students.

On Monday the professor posted this update: "Had a good day today, didn't want to kill even one student.:-) Now Friday was a different story ..." In another comment, on January 21, she wrote: "Does anyone know where I can find a very discrete hitman, it's been that kind of day."

A student notified university administrators of the professor's Facebook comments, and officials decided to place the professor on administrative leave while they investigated. "Given the climate of security concerns in academia, the university has an obligation to take all threats seriously and act accordingly," said Marilyn Wells, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, in a written statement.

However, Ms. Gadsden said she believes her suspension stems from a racial-harassment complaint she filed with the university last month and from an op-ed article she wrote for The Chronicle in 2008 about the challenges of being a black faculty member. Ms. Gadsden said the university and certain colleagues felt attacked by the op-ed, even though she used no names in the article and did not say which institutions she was writing about.

Ms. Gadsden said the Facebook comments were a way of venting to family members and friends, who she mistakenly believed were the only ones who could view the postings.

After her opinion piece was published in The Chronicle, she said she faced disapproval of it on the campus. She said her life was made difficult by administrators, and she encountered so much hostility from one colleague that she filed a racial-harassment complaint with the university last month.

Ms. Gadsden said she had no history of violence, and she thinks that if anyone else had written the same comments, the penalty would have been less severe.

"If it had been one of the more pleasing faculty members, I don't think they would have been suspended," Ms. Gadsden said. "I just find it strange that it happened to me around the same time that I filed this racial-harassment complaint."

The provost at East Stroudsburg declined to comment but referred The Chronicle to the director of university relations, who was out of the office and did not respond to an e-mail message seeking comment.

Ms. Gadsden said she was now waiting for an investigation to determine her fate at the university.

Comments

1. mahonj - February 26, 2010 at 04:20 pm


You say "who she mistakenly believed were the only ones who could view the postings."
Shouldn't that be WHOM she mistakenly believed were the only ones who could view the postings?

2. the_book123 - February 26, 2010 at 04:20 pm

I don't condone Gloria's comments on Facebook. But, how many times have administrators rebuked hostile and unruly white students who continue to terrorize and intimidate faculty members of color on RateMyProfessors and the Internet?

3. greenhills73 - February 26, 2010 at 04:30 pm

"Ms. Gadsden said the Facebook comments were a way of venting to family members and friends, who she mistakenly believed were the only ones who could view the postings." Sounds like Ms. Gadsden needs a tutorial on how Facebook works.

4. betsyboze - February 26, 2010 at 04:39 pm

If the institution had not taken action after having been made aware of these comments, what would you be saying if she had gone on to injure a student, even months or years from now? Any other issues aside, the Provost did the right thing, and the only thing she could do in this situation.

5. drhypersonic - February 26, 2010 at 04:39 pm

Given that another professor recently gunned down almost everyone attending a faculty meeting, Professor Gadsden is clearly not the brightest bulb among East Stroudsburg faculty if she thinks now is the time to make "jokes" about killing people on campus. This was not a casual joke uttered between colleagues in a faculty lounge. This was a conscious act of publication--putting a statement in a public venue--and it could be construed as a threat, a cry for help, or both. We know what has happened at other schools where web postings have not been taken seriously...and it isn't good. The University authorities were totally justified in what they did.

6. luchok547 - February 26, 2010 at 04:43 pm

After some recent events colleges are bound to be ultra careful. The sadder comment is that she had to "vent" that way about students. Sound like a professor who doesn't like students, something I experienced far too often when I was a faculty member.

7. lslerner - February 26, 2010 at 04:45 pm

I'd fire her just for being unable to distinguish between "discreet" and "discrete."

8. redplum - February 26, 2010 at 04:50 pm

I'd fire her just for being unable to distinguish between "discreet" and "discrete."

Ding ding ding. Yes.

9. major_ray - February 26, 2010 at 04:50 pm

I am a retired researcher, faculty member, and college dean. I can tell you from experience( I am Black) that there is racial and religous bias throughout academia in America. However, the professor's comments were inappropriate and in my opinion the action taken by the administration has nothing to do with racism. As a former military officer I understand more than most what the difference is between personal responsibility and institutional bigotry. Perhaps the professor has an agenda. Is she up for tenure?

10. redplum - February 26, 2010 at 04:50 pm

(System ate my attempt at blockquoting that. Sorry, lslerner.)

11. mhick255 - February 26, 2010 at 04:53 pm

We can go back and forth all day on this - how about some real data? Are there any studies on how likely someone is to commit violence after a vaguely threatening Facebook status update? Any studies on ways to distinguish between harmless sarcasm and true warning signs?

12. saswriter - February 26, 2010 at 05:18 pm

She definitely should have deleted those posts.

Not to switch gears, but exactly what can the average person see on my Facebook page? I thought only the people I befriended could view my profile. I realize that "non-friends" could see my latest comment (my status) if they are friends with some of my friends . . . . I'm not worried about any of my recent posts; I'm just curious!

13. gbkelly - February 26, 2010 at 05:22 pm

to No. 1: No, it should not be "whom." Figure it out.--Gil

14. saswriter - February 26, 2010 at 05:32 pm

She did write a run-on sentence/comma splice on January 21, too, and the first part of that is interrogative, while the second is declarative . . . . Shall we grade on grammar as well as content, folks? :)

15. unsound - February 26, 2010 at 05:36 pm

Yet another victim of Facebook's privacy bait-and-switch. If you use Facebook, familiarize yourself with the privacy settings. Visit http://fb.me/privacy and click "Profile Information." On that page, you can click "Preview my Profile" to see how your profile looks to others on Facebook (both to contacts and to the rest of the Internet). Visit http://j.mp/fbprivacyguide if you want to read up on Facebook's privacy policies. However, be advised that Facebook sometimes changes their rules abruptly and without giving clear notice, exposing data that you thought were private. It's been said a million times before, but it bears repeating: don't post ANYTHING on Facebook that you don't want your boss to see.

16. pennysevier - February 26, 2010 at 05:46 pm

Is there anyone else who gets tired of hearing the one at fault placing blame elsewhere? Gadsden should have known better, but more importantly, she should have taken responsibility for her actions.

17. koshkamat - February 26, 2010 at 05:58 pm

I bet she thinks the bomb jokes she makes in airports are HE-LARIOUS, too! Way ta go, lady!

18. dljr60 - February 26, 2010 at 06:26 pm

Gadsen and "others" blame Facebook for this problem.
Why do people need to use words like HATE and KILL in these contexts?
I agree with pennysevier!

19. chroniclebarnacle - February 26, 2010 at 07:43 pm

Hmmmmmm....she sounds hostile. I am a prof too but I don't feel I need to publish my private thoughts about things that bug me! Sure some students push our buttons- deal with it or go back to work in private industry. The University did the only thing they could do in this instance. I think it is a privilege to work in academia- we ought to act like it.

20. puretoo - February 26, 2010 at 07:58 pm

The Monday comment seems clearly a farce, and the emoticon suggests lack of hostility. But the January 21nd comment was carefless and problematic, and deserved action then; perhaps there was hesitation, alleviated given Monday's follow-up.

21. laughin_otter - February 26, 2010 at 07:59 pm

The school acted appropriately. Gadsden is apparently tone-deaf when it comes to the effect of her statements on others. It's one thing to vent at home, in private, with a presumably understanding spouse (for example: "I'll kill you if you say 'whatever' one more time!"). It's only cute if you appreciate the irony.
But how is it cute, clever, or funny to speak of "killing" students? As maddening as students can be, one would think a sociologist would have some deeper insight into student behavior that would stopper such an expression before it ever made it past the larynx.
As for the grammar lapses, hey, who cares if you cant rite? You got hired, didn't you?

22. mssmiley - February 26, 2010 at 09:19 pm

Ms.Gadsden should take responsibility for her reckless comments. I am really appalled by her comments in light of the situation with Ms. Bishop killing three of her colleagues recently. In the age of 24/7 news and the facebook generation, people should weigh their comments carefully before hitting the "send" button. I am sure if one of her students worte the same garbage on facebook she would not take it kindly. Comments placed in a public domain is not for " private family viewing."

23. klospa - February 26, 2010 at 09:46 pm

Are you kidding me? Are all of her students' Facebook profile updates being looked into as well? Facebook changes formats roughly every 5 minutes...you certainly can't blame the casual user for thinking their profile is private when it isn't. I can see reading her updates and perhaps looking further into her file to see if there is a reason to be concerned, but to suspend someone for what is explained in this article is just plain ridiculous. Frankly, I'm appalled by how judgemental so many of these commenters are.

24. archman - February 27, 2010 at 01:06 am

Let's see, how many times per week will I normally hear staff and faculty spouting out a desire to "kill their students"?

Several times a week, easy. In the office, in the hallways, in class, in the DEAN'S office, blah blah blah... It tends to go hand-in-hand with me hearing parents discussing ways to "kill their children". Child Protective Services must have half of America behind bars...

That said, using social networking sites like Facebook in any professional or semi-professional context is just asking to have a bomb go off in your face.

25. 11274135 - February 27, 2010 at 03:50 am

gbkelly is correct that "who" is correct. It's clear if you rewrite the sentence slightly: "..., who were, she mistakenly believed, the only ones who could view the postings." That is, "who" is the subject of a noun clause. The noun clause itself, not "who," is the object of the verb "believed." Like who cares? The university administrators have a responsibility, once they know about the death threats, to have a serious conversation with Dr. Gadsden asap to determine if she was serious. This does not necessary require suspending her and escorting her from campus. That's grandstanding and over-reaction.

26. zefelius - February 27, 2010 at 04:08 am

I say we fire/suspend all professors who say mean things, tell naughty jokes, and drink too much wine in the evening. I don't like working with people who are misanthropes or cynics, so let's fire them too. Also, anyone who watches Family Guy: it's offensive. Or any colleagues who post pictures of themselves online wearing very little to cover up those tummies and thighs. Hmmmmm... what if someone curses on Myspace or Facebook? What if they read existentialist literature and dare talk about it in a forum? What if someone is racist---can we allow them to hold such beliefs? Isn't that illegal? What about those with dark, gothic fantasies? Personally, I have fantasies of blowing up half the human race--I mean the entire human race--and I just wrote it online, so I guess I'm out of a job. Wait, just kidding!!! Please, I'll do or say anything to have my job back! Pleeeeeaase!!!!!

27. sqrtnegone - February 27, 2010 at 07:42 am

The act of trying to defend or rationalize what this person did is insanity. I don't care how bad your day has been, making jokes about killing your students is not acceptable. Doing so in private is a sign that you should seek another career. However, posting it on FaceBook is just plain stupid.

28. marisela94 - February 27, 2010 at 09:05 am

After reading the article in the local paper about this professor, all I could say was "are you kidding me"? Especially with the shooting two weeks ago in a university. This professor has no common sense and was very unprofessional when posting these comments. Facebook is more bad than good in my opinion, especialy for a professor. You just cant make comments like that and think there will be no repricussions.

29. mrslal - February 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Does anyone else think this is NONSENSE?
Dr. Gadsden has been suspended for Facebook comments she made on a forum that she felt was private but Amy Bishop was just suspended on the 25th for killing 3 people 2 weeks ago????
It's FACEBOOK! She didn't post an ad in the newspaper or ask a friend of a friend of a friend about the guy they know who will do anything for cash, she posted a joke about a hitman on the page she thought was private that ONLY has 32 friends and family members on it!
Now, I've read many forums on this topic and a general statement being made is that she is stupid for posting this hitman comment on facebook after what Amy Bishop did, so I'm confused... What she said would've been ok if she said it prior to Amy Bishop taking out her colleagues?
Ok... Well the article I read said she made the hitman comment on Jan 21. Amy Bishop shot her faculty members on Feb. 12.
Her Jan 21 comment asked about a hitman and it implied nothing about wanting to kill her students. She could've meant her dog for all we know, but I don't see PETA getting involved. Her next comment about a month later said she didnt even want to kill a student today but last fri was another matter.
Isn't it funny how she made 2 statements a month apart that end up being stitched together to give the appearance that she is a homicidal maniac. If she is so crazy, what else did she say in that month that passed between the statements?
Well to all this I say to the person who has never wanted to kill a boss, or a colleague, a friend or a family member... please throw the first stone.
I am going to sit this one out.

30. libdmacc - February 27, 2010 at 02:47 pm

After reading all these comments, I am sure that mrslal is the only one who makes sense. Common sense is lost in academia and society as a whole.
So, the others who have posted here should realized that they need to know what it is that they are talking about before adding their opinions!

31. 22089159 - February 27, 2010 at 03:54 pm

To those it may concern:
If ever in doubt about "who" vs "whom," ALWAYS choose WHO. If you are "wrong," your choice will sound like informal but ordinary American English. If you use "whom" wrong, however, you reveal your grammatical timidity. A misused "whom" is almost always a hypercorrection -- trying so hard to be "right" that you go "wrong."

Along with THAT lesson, you should understand that correcting someone else's grammar is FELT or HEARD as a put down. It says, "GOTcha! Hee, hee." Now you may say that interpretation is wrong! It was only a request for information about a problem that has puzzled you for years. In that sense, you are exactly right: the "question" is AMBIGUOUS in its intention. Intentions are very hard to read.

Which brings us to the say, "God, I'm going to kill him someday." The statement is clearly AMBIGUOUS in its intention. After the speaker actually kills the "him" in question, everyone will say, "Oh, no. I never thought he'd actually do it! It's just a casual expression of frustration." Intentions are very hard to read.

I can tell you that who/whom is determined by its use within its own clause ... in this case, "who she mistakenly believed were the only ones who could view the posting....." WHO is the subject of "____ were the only ones who could...." Try this: THEY were the only ones.... You'd never say THEM were the only ones.... The "m" on "whom" and "them" and "him" say OBJECTIVE CASE. It's confusing to your inner ear because the whole clause is the object of the verb "believed." On the scale of things you really ought to know, I'd give it a low-middle ranking, so long as you don't hypercorrect.

Which brings us to threatening violence. It is ambiguous. It is reasonable to assume that the average person who says "I'm gonna kill him!" will not commit homicide; however, because it CAN be construed to be a REAL threat, such expressions can be used against you by someone who just wants to GET you. Your accuser almost certainly is acting in bad faith, but it is time, folks, to learn to live in the open.

You don't make jokes about bombs in the airport, and you don't make threats of violence on the internet. The internet is NEVER private. Your comments can ALWAYS be forwarded, and forwarded, and forwarded. On the scale of things you really ought to know, I'd give this one the highest possible ranking.

If you want an academic career: don't let your boyfriend take nude pictures of you, even when you're drunk as a skunk, and don't point a gun unless you mean to fire it. You make yourself vulnerable to misinterpretation, and you ought to know better.

Odds are this professor rubbed some folks the wrong way when she exercised her First Amendment rights, and such folks were just lying in wait for her to mess up so they could pounce.






32. laurencejgillis - February 27, 2010 at 06:16 pm

Demonstrably, she is as dumb as a bag full of hammers.

After all, school administrators have a powerful obligation to protect their students from the "crazies". This is especially true when they have actual documentary notice that one of their own faculty members is speaking about "killing".

The administrators are not allowed to have a "sense of humor" in these matters. They must take her at her word, and then immediately suspend her.

I assume she will be allowed back into the classroom, eventually, but only after she takes some sensitivity classes on the limits of humor.

33. zefelius - February 27, 2010 at 08:12 pm

Apropos of the "dumb argument": shall we fire/suspend colleagues who argue in favor of armed revolution if we don't think this is a bright idea? Shall we fire someone who participates in an online racist forum? Is it illegal to be dumb, ignorant, and racist? What about faculty who are seen going into strip clubs: aren't they dumb to risk their jobs like that by perpetuating what some perceive as symbolic (Andrea Dworkin would say real) violence against women? And did someone say it is dumb to be naked in front of a camera? Does this mean we should always be clothed at home lest our loved ones take a quick cell phone picture of our fragile, mortal bodies? Personally I'm not sure how any postmodernists hold jobs these days, as a superabundance of them argue that life itself is a movement of violence (Bataille, Derrida, Zizek): that's either dumb or just plain hostile to the social justice ideology promulgated at most universities today.

Although, I have to say I enjoyed the comment on the ever nefarious use of -- dare I hint at it even obliquely? -- the N word? What about the B word, the R word, the M word, or the WT word? If we keep to these PC standards strictly speaking, based on pure logic, much of current language will have to be expurgated. I can't say "retarded," but I can say "insane" as in "that's an insane idea." Logically, the latter is based just as much as the former on a use of language which has derogatory connotations. Likewise with "moron," "imbecile," and even the word "dumb" as used in other comments (some argue that we can help whether or not we do "dumb" things, in contrast with the retarded or insane, but naturally enough this is debatable). Conversely, by using terms such as genius or handsome, we implicitly deprecate and hurt the feelings of those who are neither genius nor handsome; and thus even positive sounding adjectives/words will have to be denounced, and those who use them promptly suspended---after which time they will be forced participate in one of those "teaching moments" if they want to survive in the world and keep their jobs. Yay!!!!

34. gadget - February 28, 2010 at 11:56 am

I agree with Major Ray and Puretoo.
Very imprudent thing to say given that we all on edge because of so many school shootings. Such hostility towards students is a surprise, although I understand her believing that her Facebook comments were limited to only the people on her friend list. Not knowing whether these comments are part of a pattern of expressed anger toward students, I withhold judgment.
Can the grammar police lighten up?

35. fast_and_bulbous - February 28, 2010 at 06:00 pm

The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now, from the New York times a little over a month ago:

http://nyti.ms/5ckt7k

I certainly changed a few settings after reading that, which was after clicking through that notice from Zuckerberg that notified us all of the security settings. Short story is, after a month or so ago, anyone can see things that they didn't have access to before the change. You need to manually change things to have the old behavior. At least that's my understanding.

36. archman - February 28, 2010 at 07:11 pm

I shudder to think about how the younger generations' politically incorrect facebook postings will come back to haunt them when they enter the workforce. Those of us older folks who are participating in social networking are arguably the more "conservative" ones in terms of usage and content.

Whereas the vast majority of my current college students have active FB accounts and post multiple times per week. I've read a great deal of what they post... and I guess they're all destined for prison or fast-food jobs for the rest of their lives.

If you know what's good for you, never use your real name on the internet, tread carefully with social networking sites, and don't put anything in writing that can EVER, in ANY conceivable way, get you into trouble with your employer.

37. zefelius - February 28, 2010 at 09:17 pm

#37: I can't say this beyond a doubt, but it's conceivable that values will change with the times. I was fired from jobs 15-20 years ago for having dyed hair and looking "different"; while these days it doesn't seem uncommon for much of the work force to have tatoos, dyed hair, and a plethora of piercings. The prevalence of the internet may do much the same thing in terms of the blurring of our public and private spheres of life: it will perhaps become impossible for employers to hire only those who have never embarrased themselves online, as you yourself have pointed out that nearly everyone in the younger generation has already done so. Indeed, perhaps this is a good thing, as it finally opens up more minds to the fact that nobody is perfect and everyone has done or said something which is frowned upon by our colleagues. But hypocrisy and repression have their own benefits as well...

38. charriss - March 01, 2010 at 07:46 am

To Mahonj, the first to comment, who writes the following:

You say "who she mistakenly believed were the only ones who could view the postings." Shouldn't that be WHOM she mistakenly believed were the only ones who could view the postings?

NO, Mahonj, it should NOT be WHOM. It is correct as is. If you parse this sentence, you see that 'who' is the subject of the noun clause 'who were the only ones who could view the posting.' Subjects require subjective case, i.e., 'who,' not 'whom.' You have just advertised your ignorance of grammar to the world.

39. boredwithacademia - March 01, 2010 at 09:53 am

It has been a great day.
I didn't even have to use my AK!

40. pdbeyer - March 01, 2010 at 10:06 am

I am shocked and amazed at the intollerance shown by many of the academic posters in this thread. The constant intrusion and interpretation of our thoughts and views to conform to the "PC" of our current society brings up visions of Big Brother from 1984 where we all must think and act specific ways or become 'Criminals". This kills open thought and reason, especially with the university administration who is more concerned with image than thier protection of open thought or care for thier faculty. Escorting her from the campus for a vague laughable threat that she "Didn't Kill any students today ;)" is just dumb and ignorant. Did they check all the other faculty members and students for this kind of postings? So with this logic when my 16 year old daughter who had a bad day runs into her room in tears and says "I just wnat to kill my self" I should have her committed? Search her for weapons? or talk to her and give her a hug and ask whats wrong.

Zefelius, you are a voice of reason, I don't want to kill you ;)

41. boydbm2 - March 01, 2010 at 10:42 am

After reading Ms. Gadsden's op-ed piece from 2008 in the Chronicle, I can see that there is obviously an ongoing hostility between her and her students. We all deal with frustrations in our work. Perhaps she should seek some sort of inclusiveness with her students, maybe even a "teach tolerance" campaign is in order for the entire campus. Apparently there are some rifts that are in need of healing.

42. sid_from_somalia - March 01, 2010 at 10:59 am

Indeed...PC newspeak and succumbing to the Paranoid Style in American Academia is just sad...it kills the spirit of inquiry. Nastiness has come into vogue just the way hippy-dippy was in vogue back in the day...hopefully it is a cloud that will soon be passing...

43. rightwingprofessor - March 01, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Just another thug professor trying to play the race card...

44. jcn8139 - March 01, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Gee whiz, I'm a PhD ecologist, and even I wondered about that comment "correcting" the who/whom usage. So, I asked my UVA PhD-in-English spouse, and she verified, like many of you now have done, that the "corrector" was wrong. Indeed, No. 1, a.k.a. Mahonj, should have been more "discreet." In fact, I would suggest a change of handle. For personal damage control is tough to accomplish in this day of the "internets."

45. shanna123 - March 01, 2010 at 12:57 pm

This is such total horse#$&@#. In this day and age ANYONE should realize that posting any such type comments in a public forum is a completely stupid act. Given all of the reports of campus violence over the last several years, I still look over my shoulder while walking to my car at night after class, hoping I don't see one of my former problematic/troubled students popping up looking to commit mayhem...

46. ricsussan - March 01, 2010 at 01:02 pm

After teaching for over 40 years I was feeling on some days that I would like to throttle a student or two. I retired at the end of that semester. Perhaps she needs to find another line of work (probably by herself)

47. chicagopoetry - March 01, 2010 at 01:52 pm

Just set your privacy settings on facebook so that only your friends can see your profile and you can threaten to drop a nuclear bomb without some bozo taking it seriously.

48. rightwingprofessor - March 01, 2010 at 02:43 pm

chicagopoetry,
Your naivete is so refreshing. Any one of your "Friends" can just take a screen-shot of your facebook profile and post it wherever they like. NOTHING you post anywhere on the internet is ever private and it's safest to just assume this at all times.

49. rambo - March 01, 2010 at 03:55 pm

when attacked, use the race card as usual

50. chicagopoetry - March 01, 2010 at 03:55 pm

But why would your friend do that unless you are just randomly friending people? If you use facebook to connect with true friends and family, why would one of them "take a screenshot" (as if that many people know how to do that anyway) of your page and post it elsewhere? Sure, you are right that anything you post on the internet has the potential to be seen by someone who it isn't intended for, but looking at this one particular example, during which some harmless joking intended just for friends was instead viewed by the general public and either sincerely misinterpreted or purposefully exaggerated to be a threat, some simple adjustment to facebook privacy settings could have avoided the entire thing. To some extent it is facebook's fault, for creating an atmosphere in which one feels safe to say whatever is on the mind without pointing out the possible repercussions of having that opinion exposed to the entire world.

51. zefelius - March 01, 2010 at 04:10 pm

pdbeyer:

Right back at you! :)

52. chicagopoetry - March 01, 2010 at 06:01 pm

Yeah, I get where you are coming from, but it's sort of like saying don't use a condom because the condom might break. Sure, privacy settings aren't a foolproof way to avoid this type of thing, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use them, because they probably will deter such misunderstands 95% of the time. In my opinion both sides of this issue are in the wrong. On the one hand, of course, Dr. Gadsden has demonstrated a remarkable lack of sound judgment posting such stupid comments on Facebook, but on the other hand I doubt one single person actually believed Dr. Gadsden's comments were meant as actual threats or that anyone was actually in any danger because of them, so it does seem to me that the extreme action taken against her was a bit personal. Whether that was race related or not: who knows? But nevertheless, she's a university professor, so you'd expect her to be bright enough to either know about social networking privacy settings or not to have made the comments in the first place.

53. isambard - March 01, 2010 at 06:16 pm


Setting aside the unwisdom of ventilating the desire to strangle our students on Facebook, isn't the answer to the who/whom question that either will do? 'Whom did you expect to read it?' can yield 'I expected them to read it' or 'I thought they alone would read it.' 'I thought them the only likely readers' is fine, too.

But I am extremely impressed by everyone who can say with a straight face that they have never said in their hearts, 'I could strangle that child/student/husband/boss.' Perhaps it's only those of us who would never lift a hand to anyone who can safely say such things.

54. nancy_tuten - March 01, 2010 at 06:26 pm

#1 and #13: "who" is correct. It is the subject of the clause "who were the only ones . . . " We would say "she believed THEY were the only ones," not "she believed THEM were the only ones." You are making the very common mistake of thinking that "who" belongs to the clause "she mistakenly believed" when, in fact, that clause interrupts the clause "who . . . were the only ones."

55. chicagopoetry - March 01, 2010 at 06:30 pm

The ones who never say it, end up doing it.

56. dr_aj - March 01, 2010 at 07:35 pm

And, you "friend" your own students and colleagues on Facebook because???

57. jackfmcl - March 01, 2010 at 07:38 pm

"Who" is correct.

See #57 "Nancy", who knows about which she writes. Sadly, people who live by Facebook, die by Facebook! Whomever does so live, is playing Russian Roulette with their lives and careers.

58. performance_expert - March 01, 2010 at 08:17 pm

Whatever you do, do not under any circumstances read Murders of the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe. I can't believe the things he "said," I mean "wrote." Clearly, the man is extremely dangerous.

59. performance_expert - March 01, 2010 at 08:20 pm

jackfmcl, I think you mean "Chatroulette," which, by the way, was recently invented by a seventeen year old Russian.

60. cuzincall - March 01, 2010 at 11:59 pm

<Comment removed by moderator>

61. cuzincall - March 02, 2010 at 12:07 am

major ray,
are u one of those clueless black administrators that get hired at white shcools to protect president materman? it is clear she already has tenure and she is a graduate of two ivy league schools. perhaps that is the problem, she way to smart for them.

62. bradwick - March 02, 2010 at 10:41 am

To cuzincall: It is NOT clear to me that Gadsden has tenure at ESU. As part of the 14-university PASSHE, I do know for a fact that NO faculty are EVER hired in with tenure at PASSHE. One may get hired in as a full professor, but NOT with tenure.

63. bradwick - March 02, 2010 at 10:55 am

Many faculty are wrestling with "The Facebook Issue." After using FB personally for over a year, I have these "FB rules": (1) No students are Friended into my personal FB account unless & until they have graduated (or have finished taking all courses of mine they might be eligible to take); and (2) I recently created a 2nd FB profile -- this one is "my faculty FB profile" & I use it with my current students. Why? I am trying to encourage "community-building" in my classes; and I want them to practice using FB in a "(semi-)professional application." What do I teach? Accounting & taxation in the College of Business at a medium-large state university. Now, as to Dr.Gadsden (and I do not know her), if asked, I would tell her what I tell my students, "Do NOT say it on FB unless you are willing for a current or future employer to see it." Maybe she was "willing" for her employer to see it -- I rather doubt that, but it is possible. As to extreme frustration in & with academe, it happens to ALL faculty from time-to-time, be it K-12 or university settings. All the way around, this is a sad & unfortunate situation. Sigh.

64. beingreal101 - March 02, 2010 at 11:37 am

Clearly, Dr. Gadsden's writings on Facebook are a CRY for HELP! My belief is that a friend or family member who had access to her Facebook page continued to see her disturbing comments and realized that coupled with what they know of her personally these were not just "musings" of an overworked Professor...she could do some real damage. Someone who knows her turned her in and they may have saved her life, maybe even others. The administration at ESU needs to couple the suspension with at least 6 months of mandatory psychological evaluation before deciding on Dr. Gadsden's future at the university.

Finally, I take this as a very serious matter in the environment in which we live. I am never amazed by the petty people that come out of the holes in cyber who's opinion is limited to "grammar." Dr. Gadsden clearly does not have intellect problems, she is an Ivy League graduate for her Ph.D., which may be a reason for some of the pettiness, people may be jealous. In cyber to much grammar, sentence structure, spelling...is hacked up for ANYONE to comment on any of it, unless what is written is for PROFESSIONAL purposes. Let's stay REAL PLEASE!

65. marka - March 02, 2010 at 12:37 pm

To answer this question: "shall we fire/suspend colleagues who argue in favor of armed revolution if we don't think this is a bright idea?" Ahem. This is potentially a criminal offense. And no, it is not protected by the 1st Amendment. This is a call to illegal action, and as such, is punishable in our criminal system, much less a civil, or academic, setting. Similarly, calling others 'names' is different than wishing to kill students, and then asking for a hitman. A reasonable interpretation is that not only is the one saying this 'feeling' like killing someone, but is now acting on that feeling, and taking action towards a criminal act. Justify suspension? You bet. And as many others have already noted, would be grounds for legal action against the University if it did not take action. As for firing, that is another matter. Let the process play out, and gather whatever information is pertinent. At the very least, the writer exercised poor judgment. As others have noted, using FACEBOOK or other social media is fraught with danger, and ALL users are on notice -- there have been numerous headlines & articles about these dangers, and anyone using them is on notice of those dangers.

66. studycommittee - March 02, 2010 at 12:56 pm

this is stupid?

67. minnesotan - March 02, 2010 at 03:40 pm

Facebook has no responsibility to mask your threatening comments about students. The fact is, they should never have been made, in public or private. What kind of teacher jokes about murdering her students? Would we find it excusable if nannies were making jokes about killing babies? Nurses in retirement homes killing their senior citizens?

At the very heart of it is this: if you don't like your students, you're in the wrong line of work. Go be a political activist on your own dime. Then you can play the race card every time you screw up, and people won't call you on it.

68. jaysanderson - March 02, 2010 at 04:07 pm

Wow. I've just read all the comments and I think I need to find another line of work. Some of you folks are completely nuts.

Arguing about grammar in response to a story about someone joking about killing their students. Writing it was wrong, regardless of her intent, and writing it on Facebook was stupid, Ivy League or not. Stupidity is evenly distributed. That's all I have to say about that.

69. inglouriousbantered - March 08, 2010 at 07:03 am

I find the comments here more interesting than the story itself, which should be a non-story and non-issue. All of this armchair theorizing of what was intended or what constitutes a real danger is so much conjecture and drawing conclusions from the presented facts or making judgments like "stupid" is rather laughable. Context is everything, but do feel free to go on blathering as if this were a YouTube meme with your intellectualized variants of fail, pwned, and FTL. If these FB quotes alarm you, I must say you need to get out more. I'm not kidding.

The finger-waggers, the pedants, and the fearful all have come out to play, although there are a few voices of reason. Is it no wonder academe has the reputation of being a bunch of neurotic whingers?

Social media and emerging technologies are illuminating larger issues of private versus public spheres, power, institutions, and surveillance. One would imagine that academics on the CHE would be interested in those issues, not the pedestrian drivel seen here. Carry on.

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