May 28, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

KU Hires Previously Banned BLM Activist

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Caleb Stephens, a social worker and Black Lives Matter activist, was once banned from the Twente Hall, the social welfare studies building at the University of Kansas, and now he’s on the university’s payroll.

He will be working as a graduate teaching assistant in the theater department as he works to earn his doctorate, according to the Lawrence Journal-World. Stephens is still banned from the social welfare building until 2018.

The paper reports that Stephens showed up to a dean’s office unannounced in December 2015 and refused to leave until the former Dean Paul Smokowski sent letters to members of the school. Stephens would dictate the letters.

Stephens told the University Daily Kansan back then that he used the f-word a lot during the conversation, and said Smokowski “didn’t (expletive) care about” people of color.

Ironically, Smokowski no longer serves as dean of the KU School of Social Welfare. He resigned in March 2016, effective July 1, 2016, after less than a year on the job.

“It is clear that the best way for me to contribute to the future health of the university is to refocus my energies on building our federal research portfolio,” he wrote.

A person who is banned from entering Twente Hall on the University of Kansas campus is now on the university’s payroll.

He was, perhaps, a victim of social justice warriors on the KU campus. Stephens was a founding member of an organization called Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk, which demanded Smokowski’s resignation and staged a protest at Twente Hall.

When he stepped down, Smokowski said there were not complaints of racism at the school, and that he’d assisted in a number of initiatives to improve the school.

“I found the school to be a place that was working on social justice issues deeply every day. It’s ingrained in our curriculum,” he told the paper. Though he said he wasn’t resigning because of the protests, he said his resignation might help the school move forward on that issue.

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