Apology for "Should Be Shot" Comment

The University of Iowa president Bruce Harreld has apologized for using the expression "should be shot," in this case, referring to faculty who are unprepared. An email exchange between the president and a librarian shows a respectful interaction but indicates a reluctant apology. 

The librarian, Lisa Gardinier, initiated a long email, calling his use of the term "flippant" and "horrifying and unacceptable" given "the tense atmosphere of racist law enforcement violence." She also criticized his "rambling, unfocused" talk-a bit harsh, in my view, but I don't have to listen to him.


  Iowa email exchange

Clearly, Harreld isn't happy to hear from Gardinier, but starting a sentence with "frankly," could indicate the opposite. It's like saying "honestly"; what's the alternative? 

Later, Harreld denied saying "they should be shot" but admitted saying, "I have learned the hard way that if I ever walk into a classroom without a teaching plan, I should be shot."

As usual, this criticism is not in isolation. People were unhappy with Harreld's appointment because of his business background and questions about the hiring process. 

Discussion Starters

  • Read the entire email exchange, starting with Gardinier's first email. How does she successfully explain her argument? Where does her email fall short?
  • Should Harreld have apologized sooner and more clearly? Why or why not? 
  • What's your view of the expression "should be shot"? Should it be avoided, or is it just a harmless expression?
  • Does the use of "they" or "I" make a difference?