Professor criticized for comments on Trump

Barry Bluestone speaks at a 2015 event about bringing the Olympics to Boston. / File photo by Scotty Schenck
Barry Bluestone speaks at a 2015 event about bringing the Olympics to Boston. / File photo by Scotty Schenck

By Morgan Lloyd, campus editor

A Northeastern professor’s comments that he wouldn’t mind seeing President Donald J. Trump dead made national headlines, drawing an adverse response from the university and students.

Barry Bluestone, the founding director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy and founding dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, made the remarks in a Jan. 31 lecture about the rule of law as part of the 2018 Myra Kraft Open Classroom series. The university has since taken down the video of the speech from YouTube.

“Sometimes I want to just see him impeached. Other times, quite honestly — I hope there are no FBI agents here — I wouldn’t mind seeing him dead,” Bluestone said while responding to questions.

Since the event, Bluestone said his words have been misrepresented.

“I think my original comment was taken out of context,” Bluestone said in a phone interview Friday. “It was an important word that slipped out of my mouth. I realized the word I wanted to say was I wish he just disappeared.”

After Campus Reform, a website with the goal to expose liberal bias on college campuses, published an article on Feb. 7 about Bluestone’s comments, Northeastern distanced itself from the remarks, saying professors are free to voice their opinions but that the remarks should not be taken as university statements.

“Professor Bluestone’s comments do not reflect the views of Northeastern University,” read a Feb. 10 university statement emailed to The News. “The university and its leaders steadfastly oppose violence in all its forms. While faculty members are free to express controversial opinions, the university cannot provide a public platform for comments that could be construed to condone violence. As a result, we have decided to take down the video of this event.”

Aubrey Kenderdine, a fourth-year combined biology and political science major and president of the Young Americans for Liberty club, said taking down the video was the right thing for the university to do.

“I’m a big proponent of free speech and I usually don’t advocate for taking videos down, but I think by Northeastern keeping that video up they’re associated with his statements,” Kenderdine said. “I think that they definitely made the right choice in doing that.”

The Northeastern University College Democrats, or NUCD, also agreed with the university’s actions regarding the comments.

“We denounce violence of any kind, directed against anyone, public official or not,” NUCD said in a Feb. 14 statement sent to The News. “Please refer to the statement issued by Northeastern University regarding the matter.”

Bluestone, however, said the university should have made more of an effort to reach out to him in its response, describing taking the video down as a “terrible mistake.”

“I would like the university to come to me and say, ‘This is damaging to the university. We would like you to come help rectify the situation,’” Bluestone said. “I would be happy to work with the university to say I mean no harm to the president and say I believe in free speech for conservatives and liberals.”  

Bluestone said he wanted to see Trump removed, but through peaceful rather than through violent means.

“This is a very dangerous man who needs to be replaced in office, along with some of his Republican friends, by democratic means,” Bluestone said.

Kenderdine said the school should not only condemn his actions but fire him.

“I think that Northeastern definitely doesn’t deserve the negative press,” Kenderdine said. “That should be placed on the professor himself. I love Northeastern, I love this school and I’m proud to go here. I think that professor is just making a bad name for Northeastern.”

Bluestone, however, said he thinks retribution from the university appears unlikely. The university did not comment on its plans for dealing with the situation.

“I’m a tenured professor with an endowed chair. I’ve made my apologies. I’ve made it clear that I do not condone violence against the president,” Bluestone said. “I do not know if the university is planning sanctions against me, but if they do I will respond to those.”

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