'Lifelong liberal' resigns from Smith College over allegations that school was 'racially hostile'

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'Lifelong liberal' resigns from Smith College over allegations that school was 'racially hostile'

A former Smith College employee resigned last Friday during a months-long standoff with the Massachusetts college over allegations that the school

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A former Smith College employee resigned last Friday during a months-long standoff with the Massachusetts college over allegations that the school was a “racially hostile environment.” 

In a Monday post to her website, Jodi Shaw said she could no longer tolerate the impact working that working there was having on her mental health and that she had turned down a “generous settlement” from the university that would have “required confidentiality.” 

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Shaw said Smith College president Kathleen McCartney had misrepresented their conversations in their own post and that she had offered to accept a severance only in the case that Smith would take steps to end their “mandatory race-based struggle sessions and their requirements that employees judge each other and the students in our care on the basis of their skin color.”

According to Shaw, when Smith said they would not consider the changes, she then had to consider how she could “do the most good for this cause” and acknowledged that the “importance of telling the truth” was not worth the price.

“I knew this was going to be an ugly process, and I’m sure this is not the last attempt Smith will make to discredit me. It seems that facts do not matter to Smith; what matters to Smith is its commitment to destructive race-based policies,” she concluded. “I look forward to seeing Smith in court.”

Shaw’s statement came on the heels of a second letter from McCartney in which she “flatly denies” Shaw’s “baseless” claims — though not referring to Shaw by name — and says Shaw’s resignation letter “contains a number of misstatements about the college’s equity and inclusion initiatives.”

“The employee suggests that Smith tried to buy her silence. But it was the employee herself who demanded payment of an exceptionally large sum in exchange for dropping a threatened legal claim and agreeing to standard confidentiality provisions,” McCartney asserted. “Further, while the employee aims her complaint at Smith, her public communications make clear that her grievances about equity and inclusion training run more broadly…”

McCartney said that the school’s commitment to advancing equity in inclusion is “grounded in evidence,” noting that self-reflection is a “prerequisite for making meaningful progress in combatting inequalities and unconscious biases.

“The aim of our equity and inclusion training is never to shame or ostracize. Rather, the goal is to facilitate authentic conversations that help to overcome the barriers between us, and the college welcomes constructive criticism of our workshops and [training],” she finished.

McCartney came under fire in 2014 after writing in a letter to students, faculty, and staff regarding a vigil for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and in recognition of “the stark reality of racial injustice” that “all lives matter.”

She later said she had come to regret her words and pledged to commit as a “White ally” to learn from the experiences of people of color and acknowledge mistakes despite her “best intentions.”

Shaw, who had graduated from the private liberal arts school for women in 1993, began working as an administrative assistant — a student support coordinator — in the Office of Student Affairs three years later. 

In the fall of last year, Shaw posted a video to her YouTube channel entitled “Dear Smith College: I Have a Few Requests” after she said Smith had “engaged in behavior” that pushed her “over a line.”

The “lifelong liberal” called on her school leadership to stop “reducing her personhood to a racial category,” telling her what to think and feel about herself, presuming to know who she is or what her culture is based upon her skin color, asking her to project stereotypes and assumptions onto others based upon their skin color, and telling her that young women of color have no power or agency while young White women have power or privilege over everyone else.

“Stop demanding that I admit to ‘White privilege’ and work on my so-called ‘implicit bias’ as a condition of my continued employment,” she urged.

“Lastly, we have the right to work in an environment free from the ever-present terror that any unverified student allegation of racism or any other ‘ism’ has the power to crush our reputations, ruin our livelihood, and even endanger the physical safety of ourselves or our family members,” said Shaw.

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Since October, Shaw has posted a series of videos on White privilege, ideological conformity, and some in direct response to the college. 

She has also interviewed with several outlets and was a guest on the Megyn Kelly Show podcast at the beginning of the month.

In addition, a letter of resignation attributed to Shaw was included in former New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss’s Substack newsletter on Feb. 19.

In it, Weiss wrote that Shaw had made $45,000 a year in her former position and is a divorced mother of two children, before posting the letter.

Addressed to McCartney, Shaw says her grievances can be tied back to several incidents — saying campus climate was altered when a White staff member called campus police on a Black student in 2018 and that she had been told she could not proceed with a months-long presentation because it was going to be done in “rap form” and that it could be perceived as “cultural appropriation.”

Shaw said she had filed an internal complaint that she believes was not taken seriously based solely upon the color of her skin and that “important aspects” of her job were later taken away without explanation.

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“Under the guise of racial progress, Smith College has created a racially hostile environment in which individual acts of discrimination and hostility flourish. In this environment, people’s worth as human beings, and the degree to which they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, is determined by the color of their skin,” she argued. “It is an environment in which dissenting from the new critical race orthodoxy — or even failing to swear fealty to it like some kind of McCarthy-era loyalty oath — is grounds for public humiliation and professional retaliation.”

“I will not give up fighting against the dangerous pall of orthodoxy that has descended over Smith and so many of our educational institutions,” Shaw promised. “My children’s future, and indeed, our collective future as a free nation, depends on people having the courage to stand up to this dangerous and divisive ideology, no matter the cost.”

“The College stands behind President McCartney’s response,” Smith College Senior Director for News and Strategic Communications Stacey Schmeidel told Fox News on Tuesday. “Beyond that, we do not comment on potential or pending litigation.”

According to MassLive, Shaw plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against Smith College. Attempts made by Fox News to contact Shaw were not immediately returned.

To date, Shaw has raised more than $214,000 on a GoFundMe page she said will be used to help both her and others in similar situations with legal and living expenses — placing any amount over $150,000 in an escrow account.

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On Saturday, Shaw tweeted that her GoFundMe page was placed “under review” and that there was a hold on all funds that she feared was “for ideological reasons.”

However, the GoFundMe page is now back online and the crowdfunding platform told Fox News on Tuesday that the funds would be released to Shaw and that their Trust & Safety Team had been in contact with her.

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