MILWAUKEE — Nearly 70,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a senior UW-Milwaukee lecturer to be fired following a Facebook comment she made this week.
The initial post was in regards to U.S. Army soldier Vanessa Guillen, who was found bludgeoned to death, shortly after going missing from Fort Hood in Texas.
Guillen's family says she had planned on reporting her sergeant for sexual harassment the day after she was killed.
Screenshots show lecturer Betsy Schoeller, who served in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, posted in a Facebook Group Called Veteran Humor saying quote:
"You guys are kidding right? Sexual harassment is the price of admission for women into the good ole boy club. If you're gonna cry like a snowflake about it, you're gonna pay the price."
Since that comment, tens of thousands have signed a change.org petition to get Schoeller fired from her role at UWM.
UW-Milwaukee released a statement saying:
Betsy Schoeller, a senior lecturer at UWM, made comments via her personal Facebook page that are beyond thoughtless. They are repugnant and terribly at odds with UWM’s values. UWM in no way condones Ms. Schoeller's comments, and we understand and empathize with the outrage and concerns we are hearing.
The murder of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen is horrifying. There can be no excuse or rationalization for the killing of SPC Guillen and the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. UWM is proud to be the largest educator of veterans in the state of Wisconsin and stands in solidarity with those opposed to violence against women, and anxiously awaits justice for SPC Guillen and her family.
There are legal reasons why UWM cannot fire Ms. Schoeller for her social media postings, as some have demanded. The rights granted by the First Amendment are absolute. UWM cannot regulate the private speech of its employees.
We are committed to a safe, welcoming and inclusive campus, and this includes support for anyone affected by sexual violence, as well as military members and veterans. UWM offers several support services for sexual violence survivors, including confidential resources as well as survivor-empowered reporting options. UWM also takes its Title IX obligations to ensure a community free of sex discrimination seriously. Please see our Title IX webpage for more information: uwm.edu/titleix/what-is-title-ix [t.e2ma.net]. UWM also offers robust and meaningful support for veterans and active military through the Military and Veterans Resource Center (MAVRC) (uwm.edu/mavrc [t.e2ma.net]), which has operated at UWM since 2012.
We encourage any student affected by or concerned about this situation to seek out campus resources, including MAVRC, the Dean of Students Office and the Norris Health Center’s University Counseling Services. We do not want the educational experience – or the sense of safety – of any of our students to be damaged by this appalling situation.
The Wisconsin National Guard also commented on the incident Saturday saying:
The Wisconsin National Guard is saddened and horrified by the death of Army Pfc. Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood, Texas. We were made aware of tasteless and insensitive comments made on social media regarding this situation by a former member of the Wisconsin National Guard who retired in 2017. That individual’s comments and conduct are inconsistent with our values as an organization, and we do not condone them in any way.And while we cannot regulate the speech of former members of our organization, as an organization we are fully committed to ensuring the safety of our Soldiers and Airmen. Every Soldier and Airmen within the Wisconsin National Guard has value and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Within the Wisconsin National Guard, we will continue to foster an environment in which all Soldiers, Airmen and civilians feel comfortable coming forward to report sexual harassment or assault or any kind of misconduct no matter their rank, position or status.Our thoughts are with Vanessa’s family, and we stand with our brothers and sisters across the armed forces in our disgust for this heinous crime.
We will continue to post updates on this developing story.