Air Force officer under fire for Facebook comment on missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen

The retired Wisconsin National Guard officer said her post was misinterpreted.

July 05, 2020, 4:55 PM

An Air Force officer is under fire for a Facebook comment regarding missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen.

According to court documents, Guillen, who has been missing since late April, was allegedly killed by a fellow soldier on the Texas Army base.

PHOTO: Army Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, has been missing from her unit since April 22, 2020, according to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
Army Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, has been missing from her unit since April 22, 2020, according to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
U.S. Army

In a group called Veteran Humor, Betsy Schoeller, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee lecturer, responded to a post questioning how Guillen was allegedly killed on the base without anyone noticing. Schoeller wrote in a since-deleted comment, "You guys are kidding, right? Sexual harassment is the price of admission for women into the good ole boy club. If you're gonna cry like a snowflake about it, you're gonna pay the price."

The university's students are calling for Schoeller's termination over the comment. A petition calling for her dismissal has over 116,000 signatures, and a "peaceful protest" is planned Wednesday on campus to hold the university accountable.

"I speak on behalf of my fellow UWM students, staff, and community partners when I say that we want to see Professor Schoeller terminated from UW-Milwaukee staff," UWM student Emily Cruz wrote in the petition. "As a woman, and a student at UWM I feel unsafe knowing that we have professors who think the sexual assault of women serving in the military is justified. UW-Milwaukee claims to care about the safety of their students, therefore we demand and are holding UWM accountable to take action against Professor Betsy Schoeller."

In a statement released on Saturday, UWM called Schoeller's post "repugnant and terribly at odds" with the school's values. "UWM in no way condones Ms. Schoeller's comments, and we understand and empathize with the outrage and concerns we are hearing."

The school noted that for legal reasons, it cannot fire Schoeller for her posting, which is protected by the First Amendment. "UWM cannot regulate the private speech of its employees," it said in its statement.

The Wisconsin National Guard said in a statement Saturday that Schoeller's comment is "inconsistent with our values" and "we do not condone them in any way." The statement noted that Schoeller retired from the Wisconsin National Guard in 2017.

In a statement released Sunday, Schoeller, a lecturer in UWM's School of Information Studies, said her words were "misinterpreted."

"I am shocked and saddened that my original post was interpreted out of context," she said. "The point I was making is that this is what women are facing in a culture of sexual harassment and misogyny."

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