The student activist organization The Concerned 44 took to The Green on May 7, expressing disapproval over the University’s handling of the situation surrounding Seton Hall history professor Williamjames Hoffer.
The group of roughly twenty chanted slogans such as “if that’s who you’re hiring, that’s who we’re firing” and “SHU must halt those who assault,” referring to the physical altercation Hoffer and a student had gotten into back in October during the initial wave of Concerned 44 protests.
The reasoning behind the protest stems from claims that Hoffer had been seen on campus by students after being placed on administrative leave last week. This came in the wake a blog post Hoffer authored that was discovered by the Concerned 44, in which he compared their tactics to the to the Ku Klux Klan. The blog post spurred the Concerned 44 to put up posters around campus on the morning of April 25, which displayed a picture of Hoffer with the words “white supremacist” over his eyes and demanding that the University take action.
In response to the posters, the University launched an investigation into both the posters from the Concerned 44 and the post from Hoffer. Hoffer also sent out an apology to the University on May 6 via the Office of the Provost, in which he apologized for his “intemperate blog post and comments on social media.” He is referring to a Facebook comment that also resurfaced from him, in which he compares the the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that specializes in civil rights litigation, to a hate group and claimed that the “Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis are not a threat compared to the race war Black Lives Matter and Muslim Terrorists want to sponsor in this country.”
“I have dedicated my life to the fight against bigotry through the dispassionate, objective search for truth,” Hoffer wrote in the statement.
“These communications did not serve that objective, however. While I believe it is important to engage in a free discussion, it is also essential to remain respectful and civil at all times. I sincerely hope we can move forward together as a community and am committed to learning from this so I can do better.”
Concerned 44 organizer Emani Miles, though, said at today’s protest that Hoffer’s apology is not enough.
“I don’t speak on behalf of everybody, but I think it was forced,” Miles said in an interview with The Setonian, reiterating that Hoffer initially defended his comments and claimed his words were being taken out of context and questioning what caused him to come forward to apologize. “[The blog post] said exactly what he felt, he thinks we’re the KKK,” Miles said, referring to Hoffer’s post.
“I didn’t appreciate the apology, and I’d rather he not apologize at all,” Miles said, reiterating that she either wants him to be fired or resign because of the potential danger he poses to students.
When asked what would be next for the Concerned 44 if Hoffer were to return, Miles had a short response: continue protesting, though she noted that “you can’t do the same protest twice,” alluding to a possible renewed round of ratcheted up protests come fall.
Nicholas Kerr is The Setonian’s News Editor. Nicholas Kerr may be reached by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.