The Slatest

University of Alabama Dean of Students Resigns After Breitbart Publishes Story About His Tweets

The University of Alabama’s quad.
The University of Alabama’s campus in Tuscaloosa.
Molly Olmstead

The dean of students at the University of Alabama has resigned a day after the far-right website Breitbart News published a story focused on the black academic’s observations about racism in America. Breitbart, which has called Trump critics “renegade Jews,” described young Muslims as “ticking time bombs,” voiced proud support of the Confederate flag, and hosted a section dedicated to “black crime,” apparently felt the dean had crossed the line in some tweets about police and the American flag.

Jamie Riley resigned on Thursday, six months after being named to the position following a lengthy national search, according to AL.com. His tweets highlighted in the Breitbart article were published in 2016 and 2017.

“The [American] flag represents a systemic history of racism for my people,” Riley wrote in the tweet that most troubled Breitbart. “Police are a part of that system. Is it that hard to see the correlation?”

The other tweets Breitbart selected were arguably even less noteworthy. “I’m baffled about how the 1st thing white people say is, ‘That’s not racist!’ when they can’t even experience racism,” he tweeted in October 2017. His third tweet questioned whether movies about slavery were “about educating the unaware, or to remind Black people of our place in society.”

A spokeswoman for the university told AL.com that Riley resigned “by mutual agreement” with the university. Riley has deleted his Twitter account.

The University of Alabama has a long history of floundering in its response to race-related controversies. Even recently, in 2013, it was revealed that the university’s sororities were still informally but intentionally segregated. Days of student protests led the university’s administration to open a process formally integrating the sororities, invite an external review of issues of inclusion and diversity, and add a high-ranking administrative position tasked with handling those issues.

But race relations there, as on many campuses, remain complicated, and some more recent racist incidents involving students—including one in which the university was accused of violating a student’s First Amendment rights by expelling her over her deeply offensive racist rant—have tested the administration’s ability to handle sensitive racial issues.