CINCINNATI — A University of Cincinnati music teacher has apologized for his fiery online responses to a Muslim student who was critical of Donald Trump’s presidency and talked about celebrating freedom and diversity.
College-Conservatory of Music assistant professor Clifford Adams wrote a letter late Wednesday to The Cincinnati Enquirer saying he is “deeply sorry” for hurting feelings and offending people. He wrote that he had intended to have a “lively, provocative, scholarly argument” and didn’t expect the discussion to go outside his “What’s Hot in Popular Music” class.
“As I reconsider what I wrote from an online student’s vantage point, I now realize that I did come across like a religious bigot and that makes me feel horrible,” wrote Adams, a veteran teacher and musician.
The university said Thursday that the incident remains under investigation and that the school is committed to “excellence and diversity.” Spokesman Greg Vehr’s statement said the school “takes seriously all concerns for discriminatory or harassing comment.”
The investigation comes in the aftermath of the school’s recent decision to allow White nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus. The school’s board condemned hate while upholding the First Amendment and the role of free speech at a public university. No date has been set yet for the planned appearance, which UC’s president has said is provoking “fear and unease.”
The Enquirer reported earlier that a student not in the class posed a screenshot of Adams’ comments on Facebook.
The Facebook post showed that a student identifying herself as a Middle Eastern Muslim female wrote about the Thirty Seconds to Mars song “Walk on Water,” which has a video using footage filmed across the United States on the Fourth of July. The student wrote that the Trump presidency has promoted hate, while the song featured diversity and freedom and shows “what America is really about and why we celebrate July 4.”
The professor wrote back: “And just FYI, July 4th is not the day we tape a sign to a damn stick and go out and march with smug college brats and dysphoric drama queens, it is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. I am glad you took my class; you really do need to shut up, listen, and learn. Welcome to America, and welcome to college.”
Vehr said earlier the school isn’t aware of any similar incidents involving Adams.