Weber State University Professor Scott Senjo has resigned — again — and the school says this time it will be permanent, putting an end to the investigation that started with Senjo making several threatening comments on Twitter about those involved in nationwide police protests.
The university confirmed the decision Tuesday, saying that Senjo decided to be “permanently separated” from the school after resigning for a second time this month. He had previously stepped down earlier in June, but then withdrew that resignation a few days later, hoping to stay on staff after all.
Tenured professors at WSU have five business days after giving notice to change their mind, said the school’s spokeswoman Allison Barlow Hess. Now, that window is considered closed.
“The university considers this matter resolved,” she added in a statement, “ending processes that were set in motion on June 1.”
Senjo could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The criminal justice professor first quit on June 3. At the time, he told The Salt Lake Tribune that he regretted his posts 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 had been put under investigation days earlier by the university after several individuals pointed out his posts. His Twitter profile, @ProfSenjo, was previously linked to his Weber State email and the cellphone number listed on his curriculum vitae. The school intended to review his activity — but it didn’t get very far.
When Senjo later un-resigned, he was put on paid administrative leave while the university began investigating. That was never completed, though, before he re-resigned.
One of Senjo’s tweets in question 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 last 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 developments surrounding this case have understandably caused a variety of emotions for many members of our campus community. Weber State University is committed to improving our campus culture and our conduct, making our university a place where everyone truly feels valued, supported and included.”
WSU President Brad Mortensen added in a message to students and faculty that he hopes everyone will reflect on how to eradicate racism from within the university. He encouraged students, in particular, to consider attending the school’s town hall events on race. And he said they could also sign up for social justice clubs on campus.
“This situation has also provided an opportunity for self reflection; to consider who we are, what we stand for and what we value,” he said.
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 instructed on criminal law and arrests, according to his curriculum vitae, as well as “victimology.”