‘Going to the Mat’ Over Diversity Training

Colleen Flaherty

An associate professor of politics at Converse College in South Carolina says he’s facing possible termination for publicly refusing to complete newly mandated diversity and antibias training. “My department chairman has informed me that the administration intends to dismiss me for insubordination and other reasons,” the professor, Jeffrey Poelvoorde, said via email. “I’m going to the mat on this one.” Poelvoorde, who denied an interview request, citing his attorney’s guidance, said that Converse recently told employees to complete mandatory diversity and bias training, in response to the murder of George Floyd by police and other events. Instead of watching the two training modules, Poelvoorde wrote an open letter to the college explaining his intention to defy the new requirement. He also expressed outrage that the college’s previous public statements condemning Floyd’s murder did not also condemn protests that turned violent. In particular, Poelvoorde mentioned David Dorn, the late Black retired police officer who was killed while providing security to a store in St. Louis in June.