In the wake of the shooting last Friday at the controversial Milo Yiannopoulos appearance at University of Washington, a UW doctoral candidate and teacher who helped organize a peaceful resistance to the event is one of many people who have been harassed with violent threats online and in real life.
Alan-Michael Weatherford, a doctoral student of Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media at UW, wrote a guest editorial in the UW Daily today, in which he detailed the "horrendous campaign" that followed his participation in "a series of peaceful teach-ins" to protest the Yiannopoulos's event, and excoriated the university administration for failing to "protect its own population."
Weatherford says that he woke up the morning after the event to “several homophobic and transphobic slurs as well as (sexual) threats” on social media, through his UW work email, and on a website where students can rate their professors.
Weatherford fears that the diversity and queer studies courses which he teaches has made him an “exemplary target” for neo-Nazi and white nationalist attacks. He's so far received photos of memes taken from his image on Youtube videos, and was subjected to a series of homophobic threats such as: "alan-michael-weatherford IS A FAGGOT WHO NEEDS HIS HEAD SPLIT” and “W-would it be gay to rape him? I mean, i-it’s not homosexual if the sex is not consensual right?”
He's also been targeted on the site ratemyprofessor.com with comments like: “I went to speak to him to see if he offered extra-credit for bad grades and he started to get very ‘suggestive’. He sat on his desk and said ‘you have to earn that grade, big boy’, before spreading his legs. I got so uncomfortable that I tried to leave, but he blocked the door. He told me that he would give me an A if I didn’t report him.”
In addition to internet doxxing, Weatherford says, his sense of physical safety on campus has been severely compromised:
They have spammed my UW email account with listserve confirmations; they know where my office is in addition to my office hours; and I have started to receive packages to my departmental mailbox, some of which hinted to include Pepe the frog figurines (an image often sent to victims of online harassment). A list of various professors’ emails from my own department — especially my chair’s — were slated to send in “honest letters by the community,” asking for my removal as an instructor. There is even a post that is attempting to find the bus that I ride in order to further harass me. And, I later learned that night that they know my biological mother’s personal information.
Weatherford, fearing for his safety and that of his students, found a colleague to teach his class on Monday.
“Provided that this is the new normal,” Weatherford adds, “there is no way to guarantee my safety or the safety of other students now that hate groups have been invited to and have protections on our campus.”
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.