On July 1, Sonya Forte Duhé was set to take over as dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
The position also would have made her the CEO of Arizona PBS, which is owned by the university and located within the journalism school.
But Duhé, previously the director of the School of Communication and Design at Loyola University New Orleans, was axed before her new role even began as “cancel culture” came for her, forcing the school to rescind the offer.
“I now find that the future of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and our public television station will be better served by not advancing with Dr. Duhé as their leader,” ASU Provost Mark Searle told The State Press, ASU’s independent, student-run news publication.
“The Cronkite School remains committed to being a diverse, equitable and inclusive school,” the Cronkite School tweeted Sunday in announcing Searle’s decision.
Provost Searle announced tonight that Sonya Forte Duhé will not assume the position of Cronkite dean on July 1. An interim dean will be announced at a later date. The Cronkite School remains committed to being a diverse, equitable and inclusive school.
— Cronkite School (@Cronkite_ASU) June 8, 2020
Those words — diverse, equitable, inclusive — are often used when getting rid of someone with whom the left disagrees.
Duhé was vetted by the university during the hiring processes, although previous complaints against her supposedly did not arise then, The State Press reported.
It was only after Duhé made the mistake of tweeting support for police at a time when nationwide protests and riots raged out of control following the death of George Floyd, a black man whose neck was knelt on by a Minneapolis police officer for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.
The tweet has since been deleted, but reportedly read: “For the family of George Floyd, the good police officers who keep us safe, my students, faculty and staff. Praying for peace on this #BlackOutTuesday,” with an image of interlacing black and white hands attached.
Following the tweet, some of her former students expressed outrage “because of her treatment of Black students as well as its reference to police officers and George Floyd’s family in the same sentence,” according to The State Press.
In interviews with the news outlet, 23 of her former students from Loyola University New Orleans shared what the outlet referred to as “microaggressive comments” she allegedly made that they claimed were based around things such as their weight, race or sexual orientation.
Whitney Woods, a 2015 graduate of Loyola who claimed she was told by Duhé that her hair was messy, objected to the fact that Duhé spoke “specifically to Black lives and call out good cops in the same sentence.”
Woods said she never felt that Duhé was really an “ally” to minority students, and claimed that Duhé praised conservative media outlets and the appearance of their anchors, “including the image of white, blonde hair, blue eyed anchors,” The State Press reported.
“I don’t think she should be in a classroom ever,” Woods said.
“I think her narrative, her views, her obviously predisposed opinions and thoughts based on her background does not make her a suitable fit to teach a diverse range of students.”
A gay former student, meanwhile, claimed Duhé criticized his speaking voice as “too theatrical” and said “that I should stick with print.”
Other students reported that Duhé commented on their hairstyle or clothes, deducted points if they did not wear makeup for presentations, or advised them to lose weight.
She allegedly advised 2017 graduate Caroline Gonzalez to “do something” about the appearance of her nose, prompting the student to seek a cosmetic surgery consultation.
Apparently, the students interviewed by The State Press decided to speak publicly about the slights against them after Duhé’s recent tweet.
In 2019, a student from the private Jesuit university made a formal bias accusation after Duhé allegedly advised her to straighten her hair to appear more professional in her headshots. The complaint was ultimately resolved.
Duhé wrote in an incident report obtained by the news outlet that she expected “students to follow all professional standards of the news industry” including “appropriate attire and grooming.”
“That is the professional standard of the news industry and one I adhere to as a journalism professor who has years of experience in the television news industry and a standard I uphold as director of our school,” she wrote.
“To accuse me of telling students of African American descent that I said to have their hair not natural is just ludicrous,””
ASU rescinded its offer following a student petition endorsed by the ASU chapters of national groups such as the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalist Association.
ASU community: The student leaders of the Cronkite diversity organizations made a statement revolving around the incoming dean.
— KIARRA (@_kiarralanae) June 6, 2020
In polite society, what Duhé allegedly told her students may have been rude and admittedly even a little mean.
But while it is possible that she is an avowed racist, bigot or homophobe, her comments make it sound like she was just preparing students for the harsh world of media, where appearance and voice are arguably more important than intelligence or skill.
The timing of these complaints going public, as well as mention of her affinity for right-leaning outlets, hint that her ousting may be tied to her viewpoints rather than the harsh advice she allegedly gave some students.
After all, it is hard to imagine other professors not giving similar advice to young media hopefuls about changing their appearance or speaking voice in one way or another.
But Duhé is now out of her new job and also not welcome back to her old position at Loyola, according to The Associated Press, meaning her professional life has been essentially ruined because of advice she gave, likely based on the current media culture run mostly by leftists.
It seems unfair to target Duhé for perpetuating the superficial standards in the world of visual media.
She didn’t create those standards, she was just trying to prepare her students for the cut-throat world of media.
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