Reed College—a private institution located in Portland, Oregon—has found itself at the center of controversy following a viral TikTok showing a professor harassing two fast-food employees.
The video was uploaded by a user named Michelle Gonzalez on St. Patrick’s Day, and it shows a man—who appears to be slurring his words—questioning her and an offscreen coworker about their immigration statuses as he waited in a drive thru.
“They’re hiring illegal immigrants because of your rude behavior,” the man begins. He then proceeds to ask Gonzalez if she was born in the U.S., and he continues to interrogate her until she confirms she was born in Portland.
He then asks about her coworker’s immigration status before a pedestrian threatens to “break all his motherf**king windows” if he continues to harass the employees. The video ends shortly thereafter.
About a week later, someone uploaded the TikTok to Twitter and identified the man as Paul J. Currie, a psychology professor at Reed College. Notably, the Cascadia-based institution was referred to as “the most liberal college in the country” by The Atlantic back in 2017.
I’ve identified this racist (and possibly drunk driver?) as Paul J Currie Psychology Professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. pic.twitter.com/htsYqCOdGO— Danesh (@thatdaneshguy) March 25, 2022
Reed College President Audrey Bilger released a statement on the matter in conjunction with Kathy Oleson, a psychology professor who’s also the Dean of the Faculty.
“A number of you have contacted the college with concerns about a video circulating on social media that shows a Reed faculty member making offensive and racist comments at a local business. We express our support for the employees insulted in the video,” they wrote.
The statement continued with Bilger and Oleson vaguely suggesting that an investigation into the matter would be launched, though they didn’t explicitly condemn the 30-second video of Currie.
“This matter has our full attention, both to ascertain the accuracy of the video, to engage a valued member of our community in conversation about what it appears to show, and to follow our guidelines for addressing discriminatory speech. These guidelines include the faculty code of conduct, our Title IX, and our Discriminatory Harassment and Sexual Misconduct policies,” they added.
“The college has developed practices and policies in order to support a diverse and inclusive community. We engage in this work collectively, and we hold the expectation that members of our community engage in this work in their daily lives,” Bilger and Oleson continued.
People on Twitter swiftly began criticizing this statement after it was shared.
A clearly inebriated individual who is driving no less, is a valued member of the community? This has to be a joke right? pic.twitter.com/kHOfLfAafw— krizzle (@Kr1zz1e) March 26, 2022