About 40 protestors gathered today in response to MU's possible hire of Larry James, a former psychologist at Guantanamo Bay, for a high-ranking position in the College of Education.
James is one of two finalists for the position of division executive editor. But his connections with prisoner abuse allegations at both Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib alarm some community members. He has never been found guilty of prisoner abuse, but protestors said the leadership role he played while abuse was happening doesn't fit university standards.
“I know Mizzou and I love Mizzou, and Mizzou is about respect, diversity, excellence, and here’s a man who just does not stand for respect, and he does not stand for our values, and he’s the wrong guy to have as a leader,” said Aamer Trambu, MU student and Vice President of the Muslim Student Organization.
Jeff Stack, who led the protest and is with the interfaith peace group Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation, said he has hope that James can change. But at this point, he think hiring James would reflect poorly on the university.
"At this point in time, this man needs to go through some kind of reform process ," Stack said. "I don't think he can be trusted in a supervisory role at this point."
College of Education Dean Dan Clay came outside to respond to protestors. He said the search committee knew about the allegations against James earlier in the search process.
“Not a single allegation has ever been substantiated," Clay said. "[The committee] chose to continue. That does not mean we don’t have serious questions.”
Protestors argue that James hasn’t been found guilty because there have been no formal investigations against him.
The group also signed a petition, gathering close to 60 signatures to remove James from consideration for the position. The petition was meant to be given to Chancellor Brady Deaton, but he was out of town for the week and is expected to receive it when he returns.
James currently works at Wright State University in Ohio. He will be at the University of Missouri on Tuesday to talk with faculty, staff and the public.
This story was produced in partnership with Columbia Faith and Values.