Saturday, May 21, 2022

MS State Auditor Calls for UM to Fire Assistant Professor

State Auditor Shad White has asked the University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce to dock the pay of an assistant professor and consider his termination for going on “strike” for two days as part of the national “#ScholarStrike” movement last week.

According to the letter, obtained by Wednesday, White claims that associate professor of sociology and anthropology James “JT” Thomas took part in the two-day “strike” on Sept. 8 and 9 and emailed his students to inform them why he wasn’t going to be working for those two days.

White told Boyce that strikes are illegal in Mississippi as well as any “concerted work stoppage” and that the law applies to anyone holding a position of employment with the state.

“The penalties for striking are … clear,” White wrote. “If an employee has engaged in a strike, a court ‘shall order the termination of his or her employment.’”

JT Thomas

White requested that Thomas’s pay for the two days be withheld and that the university proceeds to court to hear the matter of Thomas’ termination.

The University of Mississippi said the issue was a personnel matter and it could not comment on White’s letter.

The ScholarStrike movement was designed to call awareness to racial issues in American and police brutality. It was conceived from a tweet by co-founder Anthea Butler. Those participating refrained from working in their usual roles for the two days. According to the website,, the event was open to “everyone to participate in on college and university campuses.” Several professors and teachers around the nation participated, holding zoom sessions and other events focused on racial equality and police brutality.

Thomas received his tenure in May 2019 from the Institution of Higher Learning, several months after he was criticized for making a social media post calling for people to interrupt Republican senators’ meals in response to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Thomas told Wednesday he did not wish to comment at this time.