Weber State University Professor Scott Senjo has withdrawn his resignation and will no longer be stepping down from his position — an about-face that comes after he admitted to making several threatening comments on Twitter about those involved in the nationwide police protests.
The school confirmed Senjo’s decision Tuesday, saying he “rescinded his resignation” in accordance with university policy. Tenured professors at Weber have five business days after giving notice to change their mind, said the school’s spokeswoman Allison Barlow Hess.
“With his resignation withdrawn,” she added, “Professor Senjo returns to being on leave while Weber State conducts a review of the impact of his tweets on university operations.”
He will now continue to be paid while the school investigates.
Weber President Brad Mortensen sent a letter to faculty and students, though, that said Senjo “remains out of the classroom."
Senjo had originally quit June 3. At the time, he told The Salt Lake Tribune that he regretted his tweets and would step down “to suffer the consequences.” His letter to the school’s department chair and dean added: “I studied the situation and the public fury is too great. I have to resign immediately. There’s no other option."
He did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The criminal justice professor was first put under investigation by the university after several individuals pointed out his social posts.
One of Senjo’s tweets was a response to a video of a police car driving into a crowd of protesters in New York City while they were demonstrating against deadly force by officers. That action has been criticized both by the New York police commissioner and mayor, along with those at the rally who say they feared being run over.
Senjo wrote: “That’s not how I would have driven the car into the crowd.”
The professor also responded to a black reporter who was covering the protests. Tyler Blint-Welsh of The Wall Street Journal said he was hit in the face by a New York police officer and pushed to the ground — after showing his press badge. Senjo told Blint-Welsh that if he were an officer, “you wouldn’t be able to tweet.”
The demonstrations over the past month have come in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Protesters have denounced racism and deadly force by law enforcement, including in Salt Lake City.
In some of his posts, Senjo called the protesters “disgusting losers” and “savages and criminals.” In another, Senjo talked about showing one reader how his firearms work. And he said that if an officer “wants to murder someone, it will happen with a firearm in a dark alley.”
The account was deleted by Senjo. But the handle has since been acquired by activists with the Black Lives Matter movement tweeting about social justice.
Senjo had previously apologized for what he called “irresponsible tweeting activity over the last several months.” He said “they reflect a great deal of ugliness.”
“Those are my tweets,” he added, “but I don’t stand by them.”
In an email Tuesday, the university repeated its stance: “The sentiments expressed in his tweets are abhorrent, and the university condemns them. This remains an ongoing personnel matter, and the university cannot comment further.”
Mortensen, the president, added that he understands the situation may be frustrating for some students; but the university must uphold due process and an individual’s “right to freedom of expression” — regardless of the opinions shared.
“These values are not intended to conflict,” he said, “however, in this instance, it certainly feels that they do for many members of our community, and I want you to know that we hear you."
He said, too, that many shared their fears over the tweets. And he wants them to know the university has resources available. Anyone who needs support can talk to Weber’s assistant vice president for diversity, Adrienne Andrews, at 801-626-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mortensen added: “Language that promotes violence, diminishes individuals or makes people feel unsafe undermines our desire to create a diverse and inclusive environment where all feel welcome.”
Senjo, according to his faculty page that has since been taken down, started at Weber State in 2000 as an associate professor in criminal justice. He was promoted to tenured professor in 2008.
He has previously taught at California State University, Bakersfield, and Florida Atlantic University. He studied, too, at the University of Utah.
He instructs on criminal law and arrests, according to his curriculum vitae, as well as “victimology.”