A professor at Wake Forest University, Laura Mullen, recently resigned amid controversy following her provocative social media post. Her comments came in the wake of the tragic Hamas attack on October 7, which led to the loss of around 1,200 lives, including numerous attendees at the Supernova Music Festival. In her post, Mullen suggested that if subjected to severe oppression, similar to what Palestinians face, she might feel driven to commit acts of violence at gatherings like the dance party targeted by Hamas.
The post quickly drew widespread criticism, with parents and students expressing safety concerns and denouncing the professor’s remarks as insensitive and inappropriate, especially in light of the recent tragic event. The university’s Chabad chapter was particularly vocal, highlighting the distress and fear her comments caused among Jewish students and condemning any trivialization of the Supernova Music Festival tragedy.
Wake Forest University responded by affirming the importance of free speech but also emphasized that the post had caused considerable distress within the university community. The university stated its stance against violence and any statements undermining human dignity and life.
Mullen, who held the Kenan chair in the humanities department, eventually resigned, citing personal reasons. However, she expressed feeling victimized by the university’s lack of support and claimed her post was meant to be a thought-provoking piece on the complexities of victimhood and perpetration in the context of terrorism. Mullen also reported receiving support from some individuals, including the mother of a Muslim student, despite the university’s claim of widespread student anxiety and fear.
The Chabad chapter at Wake Forest University expressed concern for the safety and comfort of Jewish students in her classes, emphasizing the potential impact of her comments on students who could have been, or known someone, affected by the violence in Israel.