Students rally, call for firing of professor after controversial email

Students held posters with statements about Price professor James Moore and his controversial email. Price students Joelle Montier and Audrey Mechling, along with a few others who attended the event, shared their own experiences of sexual assault. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)

Nearly 30 students gathered in Argue Plaza Monday calling for the firing of Professor James Moore after he wrote that “accusers sometimes lie” in an email to the entire Price School of Public Policy last week.

The rally, which was organized by Price students Joelle Montier and Audrey Mechling, came after an extensive email chain prompted by Moore’s reply to an invitation for an event called “Coffee and Title IX” organized by Price Women and Allies.

“If the day comes you are accused of some crime or tort of which you are not guilty, and you find your peers automatically believing your accuser, I expect you find yourself a stronger proponent of due process protections than you are now,” Moore wrote on Thursday. “Accusers sometimes lie.”

Mechling responded and called Moore a “pitiful excuse of a professor.” Price Dean Jack Knott also addressed Moore’s email, calling his remarks “insensitive and incendiary.”

At Monday’s event, Mechling and Montier, along with a few other women, shared their assault stories.

Montier called for the firing of Moore and said he should be disciplined “at the highest level possible” at USC. The protesters also held up posters with statements such as “Fire James Moore,” “I am not a liar” and “Believe women.”

“To be clear, I take no joy in standing here and sharing my most painful memory with the world, but I refuse to stand by and let another human being go through what I went through,” Montier said. “Rapists must be held accountable for their actions. Rape enablers, like Professor Moore, must be held accountable for their actions.”

Mechling explained that Moore’s email “broke her” and that “instead of blaming myself, instead of staying quiet, instead of internalizing my rage,” she had decided to “let it all out” at the rally.

Following a few similar speeches, the crowd marched to Lewis Hall, where they were halted by DPS Chief John Thomas. He explained that the chanting crowd would not be allowed inside, since it would be disruptive to those in the building. The crowd intended to deliver their protest posters to Knott. Thomas explained that he would allow two people to hand deliver the posters.

Knott instead addressed the crowd outside of the building and received posters from protesters as they continuously chanted “Time’s up. No Moore.” Knott assured ralliers that Price school administrators would push for education on issues surrounding sexual assault and implicit biases.

“Thank you for making this a very important issue, highlighting this and taking the time,” Knott said. “I’ve had literally hundreds of emails from all of kinds of people telling their stories and I want to hear those stories. I take this all very seriously.”

Knott also explained that he had met with leaders of PWA, the organizers of “Coffee and Title IX,” which prompted Moore’s email reply.

“We don’t want [the email chain] to become derailed into something like this, but we also want to have a forum for open discussions so people get to debate these issues,” Knott said. “We want people to participate in a responsible way … in a way that respects others and doesn’t, in this case, throw something out like this that can cause a tremendous amount of injury.”

Moore said he watched the rally and thought it was “well organized” and that the organizers were “heartfelt about their concerns.” However, he thought their request that he be fired was not well thought out.

“The whole point of a university is that it’s a place for points of view and discourse and if they happen to disagree the way to respond is to engage rather than terminate the source of the information that you disagree with,” Moore said.

Moore added that he does not want to harm anyone and that he understands some students have been victims of sexual assault.

“My primary objective was protecting the interests of folks who might be falsely accused of misconduct,” Moore said. “My goal was protecting students, not traumatizing or bullying them.”