The University of Delaware has cut ties with an adjunct professor who suggested that Otto Warmbier, a college student whose death last week after being imprisoned in North Korea drew worldwide attention, was a “clueless white male” who “got exactly what he deserved.”
The Washington Post reports Katherine Dettwyler, who taught in the anthropology department as recently as spring semester, “will not be rehired to teach at the University in the future.”
The university made the announcement in a statement Sunday. Her comments were posted at a time when she was not employed with the university and “in no way reflect the values or position of the University of Delaware,” the statement read.
Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea after officials there said he took a propaganda banner from a hotel in early 2016. His tour group was leaving when authorities detained Warmbier. Other members of the tour group have raised doubts about the theft story given by officials.
Warmbier was a native of Wyoming, Ohio and a student at the University of Virginia. Had his life not been derailed by the incarceration in North Korea, he would have likely graduated this spring.
Warmbier died of unknown causes on June 19, a week after he was returned to the United States in a coma.
Days later, in a now-deleted post from her Facebook account, Dettwyler wrote that Warmbier was “typical of the mindset of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueless males who come into my classes,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Is it wrong of me to think that Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved?” she wrote. “I see him crying at his sentencing hearing and think, ‘What did you expect?’”
The post continued: “These are the same kids who cry about their grades because they didn’t think they’d really have to read and study the material to get a good grade. His parents ultimately are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. Maybe in the US, where young, white, rich, clueless white males routinely get away with raping women. Not so much in North Korea. And of course, it’s Otto’s parents who will pay the price for the rest of their lives.”
As the backlash grew, the university tried to distance itself from the 62-year-old professor.
“We condemn any and all messages that endorse hatred and convey insensitivity toward a tragic even such as the one that Otto Warmbier and his family suffered,” the university said in a statement last week. “We find these comments particularly distressing and inconsistent with our values. Our sympathies are with the Warmbier family.”
Dettwyler did not immediately respond to messages from The Washington Post seeking comment Sunday night.