Iowa Professor to College Republicans: "EFF YOU!"


Chin up, Professor Lewin! Haters be hatin.'
  • Chin up, Professor Lewin! Haters be hatin.'
Ah, the simple joys of calling it like one sees it! A University of Iowa professor's "reply to all" has gotten everyone's knickers in a collective twist up in Iowa City. The back-and-forth makes for priceless reading.

Ellen Lewin, a professor of anthropology and gender and women's and sexuality studies at UI, replied to an email from the College Republicans which went out to the entire school. The blanket email touted their "Conservative Coming-Out Week," detailing plans for an animal-rights barbecue and urging students to "pick up your doctor's notice to miss class for 'sick of being stressed,' just like the Wisconsin public employees during the union protests.'"

Professor Lewin's measured, nuanced everyone:


Her email was from her official university account, and the republican students promptly complained to the administration.

Student Natalie Ginty, chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, wrote to a supervisor of Lewin's that "We understand that as a faculty member she has the right to express her political opinion, but by leaving her credentials at the bottom of the email she was representing the University of Iowa, not herself alone... Vile responses like Ellen's need to end."

Lewin responded, "I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone's delicate sensibilities. I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times."

She took issue with the animal rights barbecue, with their co-opting the language of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by calling their event "Coming Out Week," and their mocking of the Wisconsin protest. Lewin also objected to being referred to by her first name by a student.

But then she basically took it back, in another email:

"I should note that several things in the original message were extremely offensive, nearly rising to the level of obscenity."

Then she re-apologized in another email to the  College Republicans' faculty adviser.

"I have been sufficiently chastened by this incident that I can assure you it will not happen again ... I am adept at cursing silently to myself (or to my dogs), a skill that is necessary these days when one reads the newspaper. I think I was in a particularly bad mood yesterday when that message came, but I will censor myself in future."

Professor Lewin has tenure, and the school hasn't said if she'll be facing disciplinary action. Read more of the emails to and from Professor Crankypants here and here. And if, like us, you love a good shitstorm, read the comments, too.


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