Leaders of the official student newspaper at the University of Missouri removed a conservative columnist from the organization’s staff, citing the student’s desire to “spark controversy” with his writing.
The student, Chris Vas, was fired by The Maneater based on claims that he posted his most recent column from the student publication in a left-leaning Facebook group in order to “spark controversy.” The column in question was published on September 12 and argued that the Black Lives Matter movement should shift its focus from police brutality to the strengthening of African-American families.
Vas claims he was taken aback by the decision. “I went in [to The Maneater office] for edits today and they informed me I was fired for ‘coordinating an attack against the maneater’ [sic] because my friend posted the story in the social justice Facebook group,” Vas said.
The Maneater didn't post a single one of my articles on social media but managed to post my firing everywhere 🐸☕ https://t.co/tdsCD0TsqS
— Chris Vas (@VAAAAAAASSS) September 19, 2016
Vas’ firing was announced publically in an article that appeared in the university’s newspaper on Monday afternoon. Staff members claimed that Vas was not fired due to the nature of his political beliefs, but Vas and others in the MU community have questioned this claim.
In his own “behind the scenes” column Monday afternoon, Maneater Editor-in-Chief Jared Kaufman announced Vas’s firing.
Though Kaufman said the action wasn’t about the columnist’s political views, the editor-in-chief said the newspaper staff “regret the hurt we know this column caused to people and communities on this campus.”
Kaufman said he had learned “that Vas had coordinated with a friend in the MU Social Justice Network Facebook page to have them post his columns on that page with inciting language.
“We did not dismiss him from our staff over a difference of opinion. We fired him because we cannot have members of our staff actively seeking to spark controversy rather than foster healthy discussions.”
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org