An evolutionary psychology professor sparked an uproar Monday after he
told his Twitter followers that overweight students are not cut out for
Geoffrey Miller, an associate professor at the University of New Mexico who is teaching this summer at New York University’s Stern School of Business, tweeted this message on Sunday:
The tweet was quickly deleted, but not before others had the chance to take screen shots of Miller’s message and circulate the image on social media. And now the professor is facing #backlash -- from the general public as well as from academics. Many are shocked that a professor whose job would include teaching students of all sizes would express such bias. ... A new blog was launched Monday in response to the furor. The blog is called Fuck Yeah! Fat Ph.D.s and features those proud of being "fatlicious in academia." ...
A statement released by the University of New Mexico said that when [University of New Mexico psychology chair Jane Ellen] Smith learned of the tweet, she contacted Miller. According to the statement, Miller told Smith his comment on Twitter "was part of a research project." In apologies Miller subsequently posted on Twitter, he did not mention any such research project. And Chambers said that he did not see how this could have been a properly run research project since the public did not give informed consent to participate in such an experiment.
In Smith's statement, she said of the claim that this was a research project: "We are looking into the validity of this assertion, and will take appropriate measures. As members of the UNM community, we are all responsible for demonstrating good judgment when exercising our academic freedoms regardless of the format,” the statement said. It added that the tweet, "in no way reflects the policies or admission standards of UNM."
The university posted a video interview with Smith -- who studies body image issues -- on YouTube:
... When asked whether or not he thinks there ought to be social media policies adopted for university faculty members, [NYU journalism professor] Rosen had a simpler idea: "My social media policy for media organizations is four words: don't be a jerk. I think that applies here,” Rosen said in an e-mail. “We don't need specific policies dealing with discrimination. We need professors who understand why you cannot be a jerk on social media.”