Kansas’ Journalism Professor Suspended Over Controversial Navy Yard Shooting Tweet Returns to Campus (UPDATE)


David W. Guth, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas, who was placed on an indefinite administrative leave Sept.21 over a controversial Navy Yard shooting tweet, has been granted permission to return back to the campus.

However, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said that Guth would be assigned non-classroom duties for the rest of the year. He will be granted a planned sabbatical in the spring. His duties have not yet been ascertained as the teaching assignments for the fall of 2014 have not been decided.

The tweet targeted the National Rifle Association after the Navy Yard shootings that killed 13 people in Washington, D.C. It said, "The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you."

The non-classroom assignments include service and administrative duties for the Journalism school which Guth must complete away from Lawrence campus as much as possible.

 "We do have a lot of work to do on assessment as we prepare for various levels of accreditation, and that's some of the work he will be doing," William Allen White School of Journalism Dean Ann Brill told Kansan.

The decision to assign non-classroom activities to Guth this semester was taken by Provost Jeffery Vitter and approved by Gray-Little based on the recommendation of a seven-member committee of faculty and staff assembled by the Chancellor.

"The committee conducted a full review, and their input was instrumental in arriving at this decision," Gray-Little told the Post. "Our decisions throughout this situation have been guided by the facts and the law, respecting the interests of our students and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship."

The university's decision to allow Guth back into campus has received mixed reactions. While several current and retired university faculty members claimed that freedom of expression should be "a core value of any university," Huffington Postreports.

Conservative legislators have urged the university to terminate Guth and have threatened to would vote against any spending measure in 2014 if he is not removed from the faculty.

State Sen. Greg Smith of Overland Park is unhappy with the university's response.

"All they're doing is stalling, hoping that it will die down and everybody will forget about it," Smith, a Republican, told Kansas City. "He was way out of line, way outside anything that's covered by tenure, due process or anything else. As far as I'm concerned, it was hate speech."

On Thursday evening, Guth issued an apology for his controversial tweet. He said that being a professional communicator, he failed to explain his position clearly.

"My September 16 tweet following the Navy Yard shootings has caused a great deal of pain for many people, and for that I apologize. Some interpreted my tweet differently than it was intended," Guth told Kansan. "I don't want anyone's children hurt. The fact my words were misconstrued is my fault. I also regret that my statements have had a negative impact on the university community,"

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