JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State Auditor Shad White is standing behind his call for an Ole Miss professor to be fired for protesting, saying, “The law is the law.”
In a tweet Wednesday, White stated that it is his job “to ensure no public money is illegally spent. Strikes and work stoppages are illegal in Mississippi. [The professor] cannot be paid for days he didn’t work. The penalty for striking is termination.”
In the tweet, White attached the letter he sent to the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, Dr. Glenn Boyce. In the letter, White writes that Professor James Thomas shared on social media that he engaged in “Scholar Strikes” on two separate occasions - September 8th and 9th.
“Strikes are illegal in Mississippi,” White said, citing Mississippi Code 37-9-75. According to White, this asserts that “Prof. Thomas ‘shall’ not ‘promote, encourage or participate in any strike.'”
“The penalties for striking are in 37-9-75, and they are clear,” White continues. “If any employee has engaged in a strike, a court ‘shall order the termination of his or her employment.’”
White is now asking the college to recover any amounts representing public funds and that the college withhold Thomas’ pay for the two days he did not work. He also said that Ole Miss should proceed to court to hear the matter of the professor’s termination.
White ended his letter by saying that, “The University of Mississippi has been very cooperative in this matter, so thank you for your assistance.”
Thomas, who is an associate professor of sociology at Ole Miss, has caused controversy before. In 2019, he called for his Twitter followers to not, "just interrupt a Senator’s meal, y’all. Put your whole damn fingers in their salads... They don’t deserve your civility.”
This lead to his tenure at the college being called into question. He would go on to receive his tenure in a divided College Board decision last year.