By Abigail Frazier, News Editor—
One of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s criminal justice professors recently sent out an email explaining his disappearance from campus all while making numerous allegations against the university.
On Sunday, Nov. 25, Dr. Christopher Hensley emailed hundreds of students majoring in the department of social, cultural and justice studies sharing details of why he has not been on campus for one month.
“The goal [was] to shed some light on what was going on because there was a complaint filed against me, by I think seven of my colleagues, claiming that I was racist, sexist, [that] I engaged in sexual harassment, and discrimination,” explained Hensley in a recent interview.
However, Hensley was unaware of exactly how much attention he has been receiving in regards to this email.
At 8:56 pm on that Sunday night, senior criminal justice major Kacy Sullivan tweeted “OUR PROFESSOR GOT FIRED AND JUST SPILLED ALL THE TEA ON THE DEPARTMENT AND NOW IM SCREAMING.” This tweet created a thread that included the email as well as Sullivan’s opinion on the matter.
The original tweet has 8,591 likes and 1,368 retweets.
“He’s one of my favorite professors I’ve ever had, and I’m very disappointed any of this has happened to him,” said Sullivan.
From the talk of this tweet around campus to an article posted by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the university has gained a lot of attention. Nonetheless, UTC has chosen to say very little about the situation.
“The University is aware of the claims surrounding Dr. Hensley. The claims are being addressed in accordance with the University’s processes and procedures. Since the process is ongoing, the University is unable to provide further comment at this time,” according to a university spokesman.
Because of numerous reports against Hensley’s behavior on campus, he is put on paid leave. “They told me you know, you are on leave with pay, but you can’t come on campus, [saying] like I am a danger,” said Hensley.
“It’s kind of weird. They think I am hostile and stuff. So, if I am hostile, and they think I am a little loopy, why are they letting me teach a class on mass murder,” said Hensley.
From his employment at UTC going back to 2006, he has received tenure at this university. Even so, tenure does not necessarily guarantee that Hensley will stay on faculty at UTC.
According to the UTC Faculty Handbook, any faculty member with tenure can be terminated for an “adequate cause.” These examples of adequate cause include “unsatisfactory performance in teaching, research or service” as well as misconduct in regard to not following university policies, falsification of a university record, committing a felony, or theft on campus.
University officials have not publicly explained why Hensley has been put on paid leave.
In the meantime, Hensley continues to violate university policy by sharing information about the allegations against him and the ones he has reported against many of his colleagues.
“I am violating university policy by talking about this right now. I violated it when I sent the email out,” said Hensley.
Before the email was sent, students and the majority of the university were unaware of the situation. However, there have been numerous allegations and an ongoing investigation into Hensley’s case since earlier this year.
“This has been going on since February,” said Hensley. “This stuff has probably only built since last summer when I started sending complaints about my salary.”
In his email, Hensley explained his struggles at the university after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression as well as his sexuality with being a gay male. Neither of those areas were considered the main reasons for these allegations against him.
“I don’t think you can really attribute it to one thing, I mean there are multiple things. It’s not just my sexuality, because there were a lot of allegations that would be made towards someone who is gay, but then on top of that you have my mental health status as well,” he said.
According to Hensley, numerous of his colleagues called him hostile due to his behavior. By having office supplies kept from him to faculty meetings occurring during his therapy sessions, his position at UTC had been slowly stifled for months, he said.
The University will most likely continue this investigation over winter break and possibly decide on whether Hensley will stay employed at UTC.
This not only leaves students without their professor’s help for finals, but also leaves Hensley unsure of his next move as well as confused by the state of his position at UTC.
“How am I employed if last month they took away my UTC faculty ID,” said Hensley.