Eastern Connecticut State University Professor Brent Terry’s remarks during a creative writing class won bipartisan disapproval Tuesday from the state House of Representatives.
According to little over a minute of audio shared with Campus Reform by a student, Terry said that if the Republican Party took over the Senate in 2014 then “colleges will start closing up if these people have their way.”
Terry went on to say that “there are a lot of people out there that do not want black people to vote, do not want Latinos to vote. Do not want old people to vote, or young people to vote. Because generally, people like you are liberal.”
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, used a point of personal privilege to rise on the floor of the House and comment on Terry’s remarks.
“I am a firm believer in academic freedom and I am a firm believer in that professors should have that freedom to express their views to their students,” Cafero said. “I find it offensive as a Republican, as a parent, and frankly as a citizen of the state of Connecticut that we would have in our public universities a professor who would make such a comment.”
He said today it was about Republicans, but tomorrow it may be about Democrats.
He called on the professor to apologize to his class, the university, and the state in general.
“I would also call upon the administration of Eastern Connecticut State University to demand that apology from its adjunct professor,” Cafero said. “. . .That kind of talk does no one any good.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the chamber applauded Cafero’s remarks.
Less than an hour later Terry offered an apology through a university spokesman.
“During my creative writing class yesterday, I allowed my own political opinions to color the discussion,” Terry said.” I regret the language I used and I apologize to any students in the room who were offended. As a liberal arts university, Eastern is known for encouraging debate and discussion about a host of social and political issues. My role in my own classroom is to keep the debate lively yet respectful. I did not meet that standard yesterday, and for that I am truly sorry.”
Aside from being a professor, Terry was a cross country and track and field team coach at Eastern Connecticut State University. He’s been teaching at the university for about nine years.
Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville, said the comment was “unfortunate.” However, she deferred to the university for comment on the matter since the audio didn’t offer much in the way of context.
A spokesman for the university told Campus Reform that ECSU’s “faculty has academic freedom to conduct their classes in whatever way they choose, this is not a university matter.”
Editor’s Note: ECSU says Terry has never been the head cross country and track and field team coach. A spokesman says he has “not served in his role as assistant coach for more than two years.”