NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Southern Connecticut State University barred a student from a poetry class after his professor said a poem he submitted contained veiled threats to sexually assault her and her 3-year-old daughter.
The student, Edward Bolles, said his poem entitled “Professor White,” was meant to be a satirical piece about globalization. In it, a Mexican student named Juan has a sexual encounter with the daughter of his white professor.
Bolles’ professor, Kelly Ritter, found the poem “disturbing,” according to an April 8 campus police report, and said she believed the poem was a threat. University officials prohibited Bolles, who is Mexican, from attending his poetry class while he was investigated.
Bolles said the poem’s interracial affair symbolizes white America’s feeling that Mexicans are corrupting their culture. The encounter is not violent, and the professor’s daughter brings Juan home to meet her disapproving mother.
“I came in using a different set of reasoning as context to look at the craft of poetry, and she was put off by it,” Bolles said.
The poem ends with the professor trying to get Juan kicked out of school by calling one of his poems racist.
Bolles began publicly protesting the university’s decision Monday, wearing a “Save Professor White” shirt and handing out fliers on campus. After that protest began and university officials received calls from The Associated Press Monday, Bolles received a hand-delivered, one-sentence letter from the administration:
“As a result of the investigation, I wish to inform you that no formal disciplinary charges will be filed on behalf of the university and you are permitted to return to your English 202, Section 1, course, Introduction to Poetry,” Christopher Piscitelli, director of judicial affairs, wrote.