A Missouri professor is gaining attention to the email he sent to students, though he updated his comments in a message to one of the students.
“If you don’t feel safe coming to class, then don’t come to class,” Dale Brigham wrote in an e-mail to his Nutritional Science 1034 class that’s circulating online. “I will be there, and there will be an exam administered in our class.”
“If you give into bullies, they win. The only way bullies are defeated is by standing up to them. If we cancel the exam, they win; if we go through with it, they lose,” he added.
“I know which side I am on. You make your own choice.”
The email came amid large protests, and fears on campus that violence against black students will erupt at some point. The head of the university’s student body said the KKK was on campus, but later said he had relied on incorrect sources. Reports of possible gunshots have not been substantiated, and the university said through its Twitter alert account that “there is no immediate threat.”
“Please don’t spread rumors,” it said.
Brigham’s email drew anger from some black students, with one saying: “My teacher had to the nerve to email [this] to me … like this is a game or something.”
— Mrs.Gary Oak (@DarthVenn) November 11, 2015
One student, 19-year-old Triniti, told the Washington Post that she’s not going to go to class.
“That’s our lives in danger. It’s very scary,” she said.
“I don’t want to even touch campus. I don’t even want to leave my house, let alone go to campus. Just for the fact that… I know we are in the South and I know that we are the minority and racial tensions are really high.”
— Rashad Hall (@Mr_Hall06) November 11, 2015
Brigham later sent a follow-up message to Rashad Hall, one of the students, telling him: “I will be the first one to eat a bullet for my students (and rightly so) if violence erupts in my classroom. No one is being forced to come to class tomorrow.”
He added that the campus will close and class would be cancelled if law enforcement deems the threats to be credible. If not, the exam will be scheduled for students who wish to take it, but there will be a make-up exam at some point–with no penalties–for those who don’t attend the class.
“I could have and should have used much better words in trying to say that we must stand up to hatred and not let those kind of people who make threats run our lives,” he added. “Obviously, I wrote poorly.”