March 17, 2007 in Idaho

NIC instructor receiving threats

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Coeur d’Alene Police are investigating death threats against a part-time North Idaho College English instructor who made disparaging remarks against Republicans, including a facetious suggestion that Republicans be put to death.

The part-time instructor, Jessica Bryan, said she made the comments in an English composition class in an effort to spur debate and get students to think critically. One of her students, however, dropped out of the course, demanded a refund from the college, and in a guest column published Sunday in the Coeur d’Alene Press accused Bryan of spreading hate.

The student, Linda Cook, is a longtime GOP supporter and former aide to the late Idaho Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth.

Bryan told police she began receiving threatening phone calls and harassing e-mails shortly after the column was published. Police began investigating Tuesday and released copies of 10 of the messages Friday. An account of the complaint also was posted earlier this week on a popular conservative news Web site under the headline ” ‘Execute Republicans,’ says college prof.”

The account in World Net Daily also linked to Bryan’s e-mail address.

In the messages that were subsequently sent to Bryan, she was threatened numerous times with death and variously derided as a communist, a traitor, a parasite and a Leninist radical.

A writer from California referenced past South American dictators who executed liberal intellectuals: “Pray that there’s never a right-wing coup d’etat in this beautiful nation … you’ll be one of the first ones floating in a river like your cronies did in Argentina and Chile.”

NIC spokesman Kent Probst said Bryan’s e-mail address and phone number have since been changed, and campus security has been placed on a higher level of alert. “It’s a situation we take very seriously,” Probst said. “The well-being of the instructor and the students in those classrooms is of paramount importance.”

In an earlier interview, Bryan said she was “surprised and disappointed” Cook didn’t tell her about her concerns before filing a complaint with the college. “She had never made me aware of any problems or grievances she had in the class,” Bryan said, adding that it was the first major complaint she’s heard about her teaching in the 25 years she’s been an instructor.

Cook said Bryan would make disparaging remarks about Republicans in every class period, including saying that George W. Bush was elected by illiterate idiots and that the death penalty should be used on anyone who votes Republican.

Earlier this week, NIC agreed to refund Cook’s $379 course fee.


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