When the College Republican club at the University of Iowa sent out a university-approved blast e-mail regarding its “Conservative Coming out Week,” one professor took umbrage with it. And she let the group know it with three some simple words: “Fu** You Republicans!”
Ellen Lewin, a professor of Anthropology and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies in the Department of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, was outraged at the club’s playful rundown of the week’s events, which included a friendly blood drive competition between Rupublicans and Democrats “for a good cause.”
The e-mail, with Lewin’s initial response, is below, via the Iowa Republican (click on the image to see an enlarged version):
Lewin’s response was sent via her official University of Iowa e-mail account and included her official university title in her signature.
“We understand that as a faculty member she has the right to express her political opinion, but by leaving her credentials at the bottom of the email she was representing the University of Iowa, not herself alone,” Natalie Ginty, University of Iowa student and chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, wrote to James Enloe, the head of the Department of Anthropology.
Lewin did offer an apology, but it came with multiple disclaimer:
“This is a time when political passions are inflamed, and when I received your unsolicited email, I had just finished reading some newspaper accounts of fresh outrages committed by Republicans in government. I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone’s delicate sensibilities. I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times.”
The Iowa Republican notes that the group did not choose the distribution list, the e-mail was school-sanctioned, and it met the guidelines for mass e-mailings.
Lewin eventually sent another response bashing the GOP’s “general disdain” for LGBT rights:
I should note that several things in the original message were extremely offensive, nearly rising to the level of obscenity. Despite the Republicans’ general disdain for LGBT rights you called your upcoming event “conservative coming out day,” appropriating the language of the LGBT right movement. Your reference to the Wisconsin protests suggested that they were frivolous attempts to avoid work. And the “Animal Rights BBQ” is extremely insensitive to those who consider animal rights an important cause. Then, in the email that Ms. Ginty sent complaining about my language, she referred to me as Ellen, not Professor Lewin, which is the correct way for a student to address a faculty member, or indeed, for anyone to refer to an adult with whom they are not acquainted. I do apologize for my intemperate language, but the message you all sent out was extremely disturbing and offensive.
The controversy prompted a blast e-mail response from University of Iowa President Sally Mason blasting Lewin’s “intolerant and disrespectful discord,” calling it “not acceptable behavior:”
Dear Members of the University Community:
The University of Iowa encourages freedom of expression, opposing viewpoints, and civil debate about those opposing viewpoints. This is clearly articulated in our core values of Diversity and Respect. Because diversity, broadly defined, advances its mission of teaching, research, and service, the University is dedicated to an inclusive community in which people of different cultural, national, individual, and academic backgrounds encounter one another in a spirit of cooperation, openness, and shared appreciation.
The University also strongly encourages student engagement in such discussions and supports students acting on their viewpoints. Student organizations are sometimes formed along political lines and act on their political beliefs. Even if we personally disagree with those viewpoints, we must be respectful of those viewpoints in every way. Intolerant and disrespectful discord is not acceptable behavior.
According to the Iowa Republican, Lewin is the author of the books titled, Inventing Lesbian Cultures in America, and Gay Fatherhood: Narratives of Family and Citizenship in America.
Gateway Pundit might have summed it up best: “You’ve gotta love it. She tells them to “f**k off” then lectures them on civility during these ‘difficult times.’”