GRAND CHUTE – Two months after Fox Valley Technical College’s leader called for unity and emphasized the organization’s commitment to equality, the college’s longtime spokesperson published social media posts calling for the elimination of Black Lives Matter and warning of Islam infiltrating every nation.
Chris Jossart, who has served as the college’s manager of media relations since 2006, posted the comments on his public LinkedIn page. LinkedIn is a social media platform primarily used for employment connections and professional networking. His position at Fox Valley Tech is not mentioned on his profile, which describes him as an award-winning writer and editor.
In an emailed statement to the Appleton Post-Crescent, FVTC President Susan May said she is aware of the social media posts and the college is investigating.
“This morning, Fox Valley Technical College was made aware of the conduct of one of its employees on social media,” May said Friday. “Comments made by this individual do not represent the views, nor the values, of the College. We have taken appropriate action today to fully investigate this, however the College is unable to speak publicly about specific personnel matters.”
Jossart did not immediately respond Friday to messages requesting comment for this story.
On Friday, he called the Black Lives Matter movement “a disgrace” in response to an article about two Black, pro-life activists being arrested outside an abortion clinic. The same day, he commented, “Yes, get rid of the anti-American filth causing cancer to our nation,” on a post about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is a Muslim.
Responding to a LinkedIn post of an opinion article from The Jerusalem Post, Jossart on Thursday commented, “Islam is all over the world infiltrating every nation, and (Joe) Biden wants their beliefs in our already tainted public school curriculum.”
Earlier this week, he “liked” a post that included a photo of Michael Brown accompanied by text reading, “I’m Michael Brown. I’m dead. Shot by a cop while I was trying to grab his gun. Right after I stole from a convenience store. To Democrats, I’m a martyr.”
On that post, he commented “BLM needs to be eliminated NOW,” though the comment has been removed as of Friday.
About a month ago, Jossart “liked” a homophobic comment that, referring to biblical verse, called homosexual love “vile affections” and proclaimed God created Adam and Eve as the only kind of acceptable romantic love.
Jossart fired back at a LinkedIn user who decried a post promoting President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, arguing LinkedIn is not a site for politics but rather business connections.
“We can post whatever we want — free county for now until you leftists burn it to the ground in fire,” he wrote.
On that same post, he also commented, “COVID is a hoax from China and bio terrorism. Learn to discern.”
Kathy Flores, the anti-violence program director at Diverse and Resilient — an LGBTQ advocacy organization in Appleton and Milwaukee — said comments like Jossart’s undermine the work of other staff to make the college a diverse and inclusive place, such as Rayon Brown, the college’s executive director for diversity, equity, and inclusion and chief diversity officer.
“As someone who works with LGBTQ survivors of violence, as someone who is a part of the Queer community and as someone who attended Fox Valley Technical College 25 years ago, I am disappointed that any employee, but especially one who is responsible for public messaging and communication at this college, would so flagrantly and publicly post racist, Islamophobic and homophobic comments,” Flores said in a statement to The Post-Crescent.
“I’m disappointed but not surprised. We live in a time where we see this behavior encouraged and modeled from the highest office in this country. What is especially saddening is that Fox Valley Technical College students who are Black, Muslim, LGBTQ or any other student of color will see this public facing staff member openly sending messages of hate and that tells students they are not valued. It sends the message that they are not welcome.”
In response to Jossart’s comments about Islam, Fox Valley Islamic Society President Mamadou Coulibaly said Muslims do not have an agenda and are not a social cancer. The goal of Islam, like many other religions, is to worship and obey God.
Muslims have been living in the Fox Valley for over 40 years and live in harmony with the community, raising families, working and contributing to the economy, Coulibaly said. He acknowledged that in the United States, people are free to say what they want and express their own views and opinions, but it is up others to make sure they find out what’s true and what’s not.
“We are living in the information age,” Coulibaly said. “Therefore, I invite everyone to seek out the truth about Islam on their own by going to the right sources. People in the region can have their own experience with us, their Muslim neighbors, and it is happening. So many here know the truth about us and about Islam. For the most part, we feel we are living in harmony with our friends, neighbors and coworkers. This is something to preserve, if not to improve.”
In June, May wrote a blog post titled “A Call for Unity” in which she said the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and “countless other incidents over the years” serve as reminders of the effects of inequity and racism.
“Our college’s understanding of the needs of those we serve is critical to eliminating the historical inequities that stand in the way for many of our staff, students and community members,” she wrote.
“We have much work to do here in this region and across the country,” May wrote. “We all do — every person, every organization, every level of government. But this work in rebuilding can only truly advance with a sense of unity — coming together to work on issues that affect us all, especially our disenfranchised community members; not through division and all the forces that work to divide us in so many ways.”
Fox Valley Technical College, part of the Wisconsin Technical College System, offers more than 250 associate degree, technical diploma and other certificate programs, according to its website, and serves nearly 50,000 people annually — more than any other technical college in the state.
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Contact reporter Samantha West at 920-996-7207 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @BySamanthaWest.