EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mississippi state auditor calls on Ole Miss to withhold pay from prof who participated in 'Scholar Strike'
- Mississippi's state auditor is investigating a professor at the University of Mississippi after his participation in the "scholar strike."
- The state auditor is asking the University of Mississippi to withhold two days of his pay because of his participation in the strike.
- Campus Reform interviewed Mississippi State Auditor Shad White.
The state auditor of Mississippi is asking the University of Mississippi to withhold two days of pay for a professor who participated in the "Scholar Strike" on September 8 and 9.
According to an article published by the Clarion-Ledger, University of Mississippi sociology professor James Thomas participated in the scholar strike, which has been described as a halt in classes initiated by professors and others who work at colleges and universities across the country to protest for "racial justice for BIPOC in all areas of society," according to the strike's website.
However, the state auditor of Mississippi, Shad White, has contacted the university expressing his concerns over what has been called a “work stoppage” when referring to the scholar strike. In a letter to UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce, White outlines his disapproval of Thomas engaging in the scholar strike.
[RELATED: Profs across America use class time to #ScholarStrike for racial justice]
Specifically, White highlights that, according to Mississippi law, strikes are illegal.
“A University of Mississippi employee, Professor James Thomas, engaged in a ‘#ScholarStrike’ on Tuesday, September 8th, and Wednesday, September 9th, 2020. Prof. Thomas acknowledged this in an email to students and in multiple social media posts. His email to students outlined his ‘work stoppage’ and the work-related tasks he would not be performing,” White said.
“Strikes are illegal in Mississippi. Mississippi Code 37-9-75 states that Prof. Thomas ‘shall’ not ‘promote, encourage or participate in any strikes,'" the letter states.
Campus Reform interviewed Shad White about the investigation.
White, responding to criticism that this investigation is political, said that he has gone after Republican lawmakers before, and also stated that he has gone after multiple smaller dollar cases.
"It's funny. Those same folks didn't have a problem at all with me arresting a Republican supervisor several months ago in a rural Mississippi county, but as soon as I say, well, this liberal law professor over here was paid money in contravention of the law, then all of the sudden, they get upset about it," White told Campus Reform. "Its almost as if those folks have decided what the outcome of a case should be based on the ideology of the subject."
In the original tweet, White said that "It is my job to ensure no public money is illegally spent. Strikes and work stoppages are illegal in Mississippi. He cannot be paid for days he didn't work. The penalty for striking is termination. The law is the law."
The letter then continues to state the consequences of participating in a strike in the state of Mississippi.
[RELATED: Princeton prof challenges university's 'systemic racism' narrative]
“If an employee has engaged in a strike, a court ‘shall order the termination of his or her employment,’ the letter, citing Mississippi law, states.
White concludes the letter by listing his requests to the University of Mississippi for the appropriate actions to take against Thomas.
“I am requesting that you withhold Prof. Thomas’s pay for the two days he did not work,” White stated. “The University should also proceed to court to hear the matter of Prof. Thomas’s termination.”
White also makes it a point in the letter to thank the university for its “assistance” saying that it had been “very cooperative in this matter.”
“This is definitely a tricky situation,” said Ole Miss student Kaleb Baker. “It seems like it’s pretty serious now that the state auditor is involved. I just hope that they come to some conclusion about a good way to handle this.”
Campus Reform reached out to both Thomas and the university for a comment but did not receive any comment from Thomas in time for publication. Previously, Thomas has made several controversial tweets, including calling teens who support President Donald Trump "Hitlerjugend." He also once tweeted that United States senators "don't deserve your civility."
MAGA teens are modern day Hitlerjugend. Got a uniform and everything.— James M. Thomas (JT) 🌹 (@Insurgent_Prof) January 23, 2019
The University of Mississippi declined to comment on actions by the state auditor, stating that “this involves a personnel matter, so we are unable to make any comment.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @matthewkeyess