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Purdue Dance Staff Member Quits After Alleged Social Media Threats

On Feb. 15th at Purdue University, Jamie Newman, an accompanist and composer in the school’s dance department, resigned in the wake of controversy regarding comments he was accused of making online regarding a group of pro-life protesters on campus.



 

The comments Newman has been cited for making have appeared on different pro-life website forums, and threatened to rape those individuals involved in the protest. A user with the handle ‘jamiegnewman’ is reported to have said they “did in fact offer to rape Tom’s wife/daughter/great grandmother. Free of charge, even. I’m generous that way” in a comment on LiveAction.com, a site dedicated to pro-life advocacy.

Newman himself claimed that this story was “‘false and defamatory’ and ‘a complete fabrication,’” but in a letter he later wrote to the university, Newman acknowledged that he made at least some inflammatory comments to the organization’s Facebook page.

Purdue, which is located in Lafayette, Ind., did not fire Newman after first hearing of these alleged comments, citing its reason for doing so as being part of its status as a public university whose staff is protected by First Amendment law. Additionally, a legal representative for Purdue released a statement explaining that, after having the situation reviewed by the police, it was understood that Newman’s supposed comments posed “no real threat to the campus community.”

Latrice Young, a dance student at Purdue, was quoted saying that she did not believe the accusations or that Newman would have said them “‘even in a joking manner,’” according to a local Indiana news site.

Purdue did, however, condemn Newman’s “abhorrent” speech, stating “Mr. Newman’s obnoxious rhetoric is an embarrassment for Purdue” but that no official action or punishment was warranted in this case. Newman, of course, took this action into his own hands when he resigned along with a lengthy statement of his own to his former employer.

“If anything, you owe me an apology—indeed, you should probably be begging my forgiveness—for facilitating the dissemination of fabricated and defamatory statements about me, and for failing to vehemently denounce the effort made of Students For Life to destroy my life and career,” he wrote.

Margeaux Biché

Columbia Barnard

Margeaux Biché is a current senior at Barnard College living in New York City. During her freshman year, she studied at the George Washington University in D.C., where she wrote for The GW Hatchet. She is a Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies major and is passionate about social justice. While she does not know exactly where she'll take her degree, she hopes she can contribute to the advancement of marginalized peoples through legal and/or activist work. Chocolate covered pretzels are her favorite food, Rihanna is her favorite musician and her go-to talent is her ability to wiggle her ears. Margeaux loves dogs, hiking and her hometown basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, all of which are oft-featured on her Instagram account. Twitter | LinkedIn
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