U. of Tampa Professor loses job over Hurricane Harvey tweets

We have seen people blame natural disasters on  unrelated things such as religious leanings or sexual orientation.  Now, we can add one more thing to this list — political affiliation.

According to a University of Tampa assistant professor, the devastation of Hurricane Harvey is Texas’ “karma” for voting Republican.   Roughly two days after the hurricane hit Texas, Prof. Kenneth Story tweeted the following:

It reads, “I don’t believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them.”

This tweet started an exchange between Story and another user.  The professor went on to write that “the good people there need to do more to stop the evil their state pushes. I’m only blaming those who support the GOP there.”  When the conversation switched to Florida, Storey wrote “those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

Storey later deleted his tweets but, not before screenshots were taken and posted to the web site Campus Reform.   In the wake of this, there were social media users called upon the University of Tampa to fire the professor.  It took little time for the university to respond.  In a statement, the school said that Story “has been relieved of his duties” and that other professors would be taking over his classes.

This story might not end here, however.  There are outstanding questions on whether or not the university followed proper procedure in terminating the professor.  Additionally, the rules laid out in the Faculty Policies and Procedures Handbook may leave room for interpretation on if this incident was a fireable offense.

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An opinionated technologist, JP launched Death By Social Media when he saw just how easily and how often people's misunderstanding/abuse of social media created personal catastrophes. As a result, he wanted to provide a resource that would provide cautionary tales for those seeking to avoid similar fates.