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FVTC spokesman resigns after comments on Islam, Black Lives Matter

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GRAND CHUTE – Fox Valley Technical College’s longtime spokesman has resigned, days after social media posts critical of Black Lives Matter and warning of Islam infiltrating every nation came to light.

In a statement provided to The Post-Crescent on Tuesday, FVTC President Susan May said Chris Jossart, manager of media relations, resigned effective Monday and was “relieved of his duties immediately.” 

“Our institution remains committed to a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion that offers opportunity for all students, employees, and our communities,” May wrote.

May declined an interview with The Post-Crescent on Tuesday, calling the incident a “personnel matter.” 

Jossart, who had served as the college’s spokesman for nearly 15 years, declined to comment when contacted by a reporter Tuesday morning. He said his lawyer would release a statement later in the day. 

The comments that led to Jossart’s resignation were posted on his public LinkedIn page over the last month. LinkedIn is a social media platform primarily used for employment connections and professional networking.

While FVTC “respects the free speech rights of its employees,” the college’s social media policy states they’re expected to exercise “good judgement and discretion” on social media, and warns that “conduct that would not be considered acceptable in the workplace is not acceptable online.”

While Jossart’s position at FVTC was not mentioned on his LinkedIn profile, which describes him as an award-winning writer and editor, the policy says that, regardless, what an employee says may be interpreted as “official” communication if others are aware of the person’s employment status.

RELATED: Fox Valley Technical College investigating spokesman’s social media comments on Islam, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ community

On Friday, Jossart called the Black Lives Matter movement “a disgrace” in response to an article about two Black, pro-life activists being arrested outside an abortion clinic. The same day, he commented, “Yes, get rid of the anti-American filth causing cancer to our nation,” on a post about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is a Muslim. 

Responding to a LinkedIn post of an opinion article from The Jerusalem Post, Jossart on Thursday commented, “Islam is all over the world infiltrating every nation, and (Joe) Biden wants their beliefs in our already tainted public school curriculum.” 

Earlier last week, he “liked” a post including a photo of Michael Brown, and commented “BLM needs to be eliminated NOW,” though the comment had been removed as of Friday. 

Jossart’s posts caught the attention of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. On Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for “appropriate disciplinary action” against Jossart, and encouraged him to better himself by engaging with the Muslim community.

“We urge Fox Valley Technical College to conduct a transparent investigation of this disturbing matter and to take appropriate disciplinary action based on the college’s policies,” CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement. 

“Everyone has the First Amendment right to free speech, but that right does not guarantee public school employees the right to engage in such bigotry,” Mitchell said.

In another post, Jossart fired back at a LinkedIn user who decried a post promoting President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, arguing LinkedIn is not a site for politics but rather a place for business connections.

“We can post whatever we want — free county for now until you leftists burn it to the ground in fire,” he wrote. 

On that same post, he also commented, “COVID is a hoax from China and bio terrorism. Learn to discern.”

In a statement sent to The Post-Crescent on Saturday, Jossart apologized “for any offense or harm” his comments caused.

“My comments do not represent the college in any way whatsoever; they were made under the premise of free speech on a personal level,” Jossart said. “I was reacting to the suppression of a second side to national stories. I apologize for any offense or harm. Those who know me best realize my adoration for all people as uniquely-created individuals.”

This story will be updated.

Contact reporter Samantha West at 920-996-7207 or swest@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @BySamanthaWest.

Read or Share this story: https://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/education/2020/08/11/fvtc-spokesman-resigns-after-comments-on-islam-black-lives-matter/3340433001/





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