'I will never apologize': University fires professor for endangering students at campus protest

A view from Charles street of the grassy "Beach" and Milton S Eisenhower Library of the Johns Hopkins University. (Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images).

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has fired a professor after he broke into a building on campus where students were staging a sit-in protest.

The professor claims he has been discriminated against by the university for being a white man. He also said the university has treated him like a “Justin Trudeau man child”.

In May, professor Daniel Povey used bolt cutters to dismantle metal chains attached to a door at an administrative building where students were gathered.

The New York Times reports that multiple students claim Povey, 43, assaulted them when he entered the building and a video online appears to show Povey punching a student.

Students were protesting the creation of a private police force on campus over concerns of harassment, discrimination and connections with U.S. immigration authorities.

While Povey was initially placed on administrative leave for his abrasive method of attempting to reach computer servers in the building, the university has now officially fired him.

A letter from Andrew S. Douglas, the vice dean for faculty of engineering, states that after a months-long investigation they’ve found the professor “engaged in violent and aggressive behaviour” when entering the administrative building.

While Povey claims students assaulted him as well, the university said these claims lack validity as Povey refused to answer questions from the school.

He wouldn’t tell Johns Hopkins whether he had privately paid other individuals to help him break into the building, the letter states. The school also believes Povey anticipated the people he brought with him might become violent.

“You created a dangerous situation that could have ended in serious harm to our students, yourself, and others in the community,” the letter states.

Povey’s dismissal becomes official at the end of the month, and he’s banned from campus and from speaking to students.

The professor shared the letter on his personal website and wrote a rebuttal in which it’s clear that he has no remorse for his actions and will be taking a job in the private sector.

“I am aware that some people are trying to ‘cancel’ me and get me fired from my next job. See if I care!” he said.

Daniel Povey (John Hopkins University Website)

The extensive post includes accusations from Povey against the students who were protesting, claiming they are lying.

In a statement on Facebook by the protesters, they said “We are pleased that Professor Povey is no longer welcome on campus, as he has negatively affected students and the community.”

“We are disappointed that Povey continues to defend his actions, shows no remorse, and disparages students based on his perceptions of their identities,” the statement reads.

In his lengthy post, Povey does admit he brought a group with him to “regain control” of the building from the students, even though the university repeatedly told him not to.

But ultimately, he said the students’ identities caused the university to treat them better than him. However, the university hasn’t exactly favoured the students, as they’ve been keen to shut down the protest and have stated they wouldn’t meet with the students.

“My feeling is that this mostly has to do with underrepresented minorities, specifically black people (and trans people),” he said. “

“There seems to be nothing that Americans...fear more than being accused of racism...which leads to ridiculous spectacles like what we're seeing here, where such a huge organization can be paralyzed by a handful of deluded kids,” he said.

Povey doesn’t acknowledge that the student’s main concern is violence and police brutality in Baltimore, who have a past history of racial profiling.

He said if he knew that “everyone inside the building was black” he wouldn’t have gone ahead with his “counter-protest”.

Claiming the greatest problem in this scenario is his own identity as a white man, and that he is forced to care about other identities “like a neutered puppy dog or some Justin Trudeau man child.”

The university’s Office of Institutional Equity is currently investigating claims that Povey was violent and “motivated by racially discriminatory animus and created a hostile environment,” reports the New York Times.

Povey did tell the Times that he doesn’t believe white men are discriminated against all the time, but only on university campuses.