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News Analysis May 26, 2022 5:43 AM EST

Duke prof compares mandatory equity training to 'Maoist propaganda', his colleagues’ responses prove him right

A tenured professor at Duke University compared mandatory equity training to "Maoist political propaganda workshops," prompting outrage from PhD candidates.

Duke prof compares mandatory equity training to 'Maoist propaganda', his colleagues’ responses prove him right
Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

A tenured professor at Duke University compared mandatory equity training to "Maoist political propaganda workshops," prompting outrage from PhD candidates accusing him of "transphobia & homophobia."

On Tuesday, the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology (MGM) at Duke University sent out an email to faculty, staff, postdocs, and trainees informing them of mandatory equity training.

The response from one tenured professor caused Alan Rosales to take to Twitter and complain.

Rosales, who according to his Twitter profile is a Biomedical Engineering PhD candidate, posted screenshots of the original email and the professor's response, which he deemed to be "disgusting."

"MGM leadership and department members are working with OIE to design a training module aimed at helping members of our department be fair and welcoming to individuals who differ in their background," the email read.

The dates and times are then listed, along with a warning that "Per school of Medicine guidelines, all faculty are required to attend a session."

Not long after, distinguished professor Dr. Bryan Cullen replied to the request.

"My initial reaction is I refuse to engage in left-wing Maoist political propaganda workshops," he wrote, "and, as a tenured faculty, that is my choice."

Rosales tagged Duke and the school newspaper in his post, accusing Dr. Cullen of having a "history of transphobia & homophobia." He doesn't provide any details, however, according to the Duke Chronicle, the professor had come under fire for posting "comics with transphobic undertones," and suggesting in his lectures that gay men "played a critical role in the early spread of HIV in the USA."

"THIS IS NOT OKAY AT ALL!" Rosales said, decrying the fact that Duke "constantly talks about creating an inclusive environment" but dares to support faculty members with alternate viewpoints.

"Transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia or ANY form of discrimination is never okay!" he added, before urging the university and department to "act accordingly ASAP!"

According to another PhD candidate, Dr. Cullen is slated to retire in the near future.

Aside from teaching, he is Director of the Center for Virology, and Member of the Duke Cancer Institute.

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