On­tario col­lege turfs pro­fes­sor af­ter in­ves­ti­gat­ing online ho­mo­pho­bic com­ment

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

An On­tario col­lege says it no longer em­ploys a pro­fes­sor fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a com­plaint about ho­mo­pho­bic com­ments al­legedly posted on so­cial media.

A spokes­woman for St. Lawrence Col­lege says an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched af­ter a stu­dent com­plained about com­ments pro­fes­sor Rick Cou­p­land al­legedly made on Face­book.

Kelly Wiley says the com­ments were a “breach” of the school's code of con­duct.

Screen­shots of a post cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial media al­legedly show Cou­p­land shar­ing a link to a story about a rain­bow flag be­ing raised in St. Peters­burg, Fla., ac­com­pa­nied with the com­ment “It's the queers they should be hang­ing, not the flag.”

The Face­book ac­count ap­peared to have been deleted by Tues­day. Cou­p­land, who was a busi­ness pro­fes­sor with the col­lege, did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

“We were made aware by a for­mer stu­dent who sent us the post and a com­plaint about the con­tent of the post,” Wiley told The Cana­dian Press. “The posts were deeply con­cern­ing to the col­lege due to the na­ture of their con­tent. It was clear to us that we needed to in­ves­ti­gate them im­me­di­ately.”

Wiley said Cou­p­land was put on leave with pay on Mon­day as the col­lege be­gan its in­ves­ti­ga­tion. St. Lawrence Col­lege, which has cam­puses in Brockville, Cornwall and Kingston, said the com­ments are not a re­flec­tion of its val­ues.

“We also be­lieve this is an op­por­tu­nity to get even bet­ter in that we are in­clu­sive and we are sup­port­ive,” Wiley said.

She said the col­lege has strict poli­cies that guide the con­duct of its em­ploy­ees.

Jolisa Ma­su­col, who grad­u­ated from the col­lege in the spring, said she was dis­ap­pointed that the school is­sued a state­ment on its so­cial media chan­nels about the in­ci­dent on Mon­day, de­spite it first be­ing re­ported by a lo­cal news out­let last week.

“It re­flects poorly on the school's public re­la­tions strat­egy,” she said. “I would have ap­pre­ci­ated them to ad­dress the is­sue head on, but they didn't.”

Ma­su­col, who didn't take a class with Cou­p­land but saw him in pass­ing as he shared an of­fice with one of her pro­fes­sors, noted that the col­lege is nonethe­less an in­clu­sive com­mu­nity.

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