A St. Joseph’s University professor under investigation by the university for his tweets has been suspended for the remainder of the spring semester.
Gregory Manco is an assistant math professor and a volunteer athletics coach at St. Joe’s, and was previously temporarily suspended after the university launched an investigation into his social media postings.
Manco had posted for years anonymously at the Twitter handle @SouthJerzGiants and occasionally commented on social justice and racial issues.
“Suppose your great-great-grandfather murdered someone,” he tweeted on Feb. 17. “The victim’s great-great-grandson knocks on your door, shows you the newspaper clipping from 1905, and demands compensation from you. Your response?”
“Now get this racist reparation bulls*** out of your head for good,” he concluded. The tweet linked to an Associated Press story reporting that the Biden administration was “giving its support to studying reparations for Black Americans for slavery and discrimination.”
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People who knew Manco’s online identity flagged a handful of his tweets to university administrators, who then temporarily suspended him while they investigated. The student newspaper, The Hawk, reported that administrators indicated Manco’s suspension would be in effect for the duration of the investigation.
That temporary suspension has now been extended at least through the end of the semester.
Manco provided an email to Broad + Liberty that documented the change. He allowed Broad + Liberty to review and report on the email provided it was only described in generalities and would not be reproduced because Manco does not want to violate, even accidentally, any privacy or confidentiality measures that might complicate the circumstances.
The email shows that the administration claims its motivation for extending the suspension is to create continuity for the students in Manco’s classes.
The university said it is merely following protocol when Broad + Liberty reached out for comment.
“Saint Joseph’s University received reports of alleged bias, harassment and/or discrimination and is following its policies and procedures for responding to such complaints,” a statement from the university said. “Consistent with its Jesuit, Catholic mission and identity, the University strives to be an inclusive and diverse community of individuals, beliefs, and perspectives. The process for reviewing and investigating complaints does not imply or presume any particular outcome or conclusion.”
Adam Steinbaugh, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, disputed St. Joe’s administration’s excuse. He says there never should have been any suspension, either for the duration of the investigation or for the remainder of the semester.
“Interim suspensions are a way to prevent immediate harm when there’s no time to conduct an investigation and provide for a hearing,” Steinbaugh told Broad + Liberty. “Manco’s tweets didn’t involve anyone at the university at all, much less threaten disruption of any sort. The disruption here comes entirely from the university’s administration.”
‘Manco’s tweets didn’t involve anyone at the university at all, much less threaten disruption of any sort. The disruption here comes entirely from the university’s administration.’
FIRE, a nonprofit that says its mission is to “defend and sustain the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities,” has been in contact with the university, acting as an external advocate on Manco’s behalf.
As previously reported in an opinion article published by Broad + Liberty, Manco denies that any of his tweets are racist, biased or discriminatory. That article also noted the St. Joe’s faculty handbook allows that when faculty “speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.”
An opinion article in The Hawk, also notes that the faculty handbook says professors “should not deliberately inject into their teaching a controversial matter which has no proper relation to the subject.”
Meanwhile, Manco has left the Twitter account up, and published a lengthy thread explaining the controversy and his stance.
The student newspaper reported that after Manco published that Twitter thread, other Twitter users “began harassing the students [who flagged Manco’s original tweets] online and sending death threats. The threats have been ongoing since the initial thread was posted.”
The paper did not link to or cite a source for that claim.
After Manco published that Twitter thread, other Twitter users ‘began harassing the students [who flagged Manco’s original tweets] online and sending death threats. The threats have been ongoing since the initial thread was posted.’
Looming over the current imbroglio is another political controversy from 2017 in which a St. Joe’s professor told students that Trump voters could be dismissed as irredeemable.
“I am not sympathetic to the white voters who make over $50,000 a year and said we are going to vote for Trump,” Associate Professor David Parry said in 2017.
“Those people, I am not sympathetic to and I do not believe that you have to open your heart to them,” he continued. “If you are a person of color, if you are a woman, you do not have to open your heart to them. They told you ‘you are not a person and it is okay to deal with that how you want.”
Parry’s remarks became the subject of national news.
The Hawk later criticized FOX News’ coverage, saying the station had “heavily edited” portions of a recording of Parry that was eventually used in the FOX reports. The paper also quoted Joseph M. Lunardi, St. Joe’s assistant vice president for marketing communications as saying, “We made it very clear that Dr. Parry was neither speaking in class nor representing the University.”
The university did not answer questions from Broad + Liberty about what discipline, if any, Parry received.
With Manco’s suspension lasting through the end of the semester, he will effectively have been removed from the classroom for three months. The university’s academic calendar shows that the last day for final exams will be May 17.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at tshepherd at broadandliberty.com, or use his encrypted email at shepherdreports at protonmail.com.