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East Stroudsburg U. Professor Returns After Suspension for Facebook Posts

After being suspended for jokes she made on her Facebook page about wanting to kill students a month ago, Gloria Y. Gadsden has been reinstated to her job at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. The associate professor of sociology returned to work on Wednesday after being cleared by a psychologist.

Ms. Gadsden was placed on paid administrative leave after a student complained about two comments she had made on her Facebook page: “Had a good day today, didn’t want to kill even one student.:-) Now Friday was a different story …” and “Does anyone know where I can find a very discrete [sic] hitman, it’s been that kind of day.”

Though Ms. Gadsden said her co-workers have been either welcoming or distant, a few of her students have been blatantly opposed to her return. She said on her first day back, three of her students “stormed out” of class, complained to the department chair and administrators, and called the media. After that, campus police officers were posted outside her classroom.

The provost of East Stroudsburg did not respond to a request for comment and referred The Chronicle to the university’s public-relations office. A university spokesperson would not comment because the issue was a personnel matter.

Ms. Gadsden still holds that the “radically extreme response” to her Facebook posts was a result of a racial-harassment complaint she filed the month before her suspension, and of an essay she wrote for The Chronicle Review in 2008 that described some of the challenges black faculty members face.

The Facebook comments, Ms. Gadsden said, were intended only for family and friends. She said that she wishes she had never started an account, and that she got legal advice not to take it down at this point.

“I wish the administration had looked at the bigger picture,” she said. “It was a bad joke, but it was a joke.”

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