MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Marquette University officials fired their Gender and Sexuality Resource Center director after reports of a mural at the center featuring convicted cop killer and wanted terrorist Assata Shakur.
Shakur was convicted of the execution style killing of a New Jersey trooper in 1973 before she escaped prison and fled to Cuba, where she’s lived in exile since.
On Monday, Marquette University officials removed a large mural of Shakur, which included quotes from her autobiography, after associate professor of political science John McAdams criticized the piece on his blog, the Marquette Warrior. The next day, university officials fired sexuality center’s director.
“Susannah Bartlow is no longer an employee with Marquette University,” Brian Dorrington, university spokesman, wrote to the Marquette Wire in an email.
“We will work with the Center’s advisory board to search for a new director so that we can continue to grow the important programs at the Center.”
A very brief statement issued by the university Sunday alleges its “senior leadership just became aware of a mural that was created and displayed in a remote area of campus.
“This is extremely disappointing as the mural does not reflect the Guiding Values of Marquette University. It is being removed immediately. We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the mural and will take appropriate action.”
Apparently, Bartlow is not among the “senior leadership.”
The mural was a collaborate project between the Center and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. And a statement from the sorority’s international communications chairman Leona Dotson makes it clear the project was approved and planned, although not very well, Fox 6 reports.
“The chapter worked with the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to determine a theme and imagery for the mural,” the Alpha Kappa Alpha statement read. “The chapter, along with other university staff and students, painted a mural that featured an image and quote by Assata Shakur to promote student thinking about their educations and history.
“Unfortunately Ms. Shakur’s entire history and background was not fully researched. If that process had occurred, she would not have been featured in the mural.”
The Center had also publicized the mural on both Facebook and Twitter two months ago.
“TADA, our mural is finished!” @MarquetteGSRC tweeted March 24. “In commemoration of the courageous, Assata Shakur.”
McAdams believes the tweet is evidence officials knew exactly who Shakur is.
“How in the world could they think she was ‘courageous?’ If they had any information about her at all, they would know that Shakur is a cop killer who is on the FBI’s list of the Tem Most Wanted Terrorists,” he posted to Marquette Warrior. “Who judged her to be ‘courageous?’”
The university’s student government is backing the mural’s removal, despite a petition circulating to reinstate Bartlow.
“MUSG stands with Marquette University and believes recent decisions were made through a
thoughtful process and in accordance with the university’s Guiding Values,” according to a statement. “MUSG will be working with university leadership to hire a new director of the Gender and
Sexuality Resource Center as soon as possible. We are committed to protecting the initiatives of
the GSRC and supporting its role on campus.”
The petition to reinstate Bartlow had gained 125 signature on an iPetitions.com site as of Thursday morning, yet even those who want her back don’t necessarily agree the mural was a good idea.
“We who are in support of this petition and the reinstatement of Bartlow are in no way making a statement about the mural or the woman featured on it,” alumna Samantha Kemp, who co-created the petition, told the Marquette Wire. “Our efforts are directed solely at the reinstatement of Bartlow.”