MIT professor Ashlee Vance, a leading critic of university faculty, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with harassment and assault.
Vance, an associate professor of philosophy at the university, had been scheduled to speak on October 10 at the National Day of Prayer event, but she was barred from speaking due to a security breach.
A spokesperson for the university said Vance will be unable to attend the event.
“The safety of our students and faculty is of paramount importance,” the university statement read.
“As a result of this breach, the university is unable to offer any further comment on the matter.”
A spokesperson with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office said Vance is currently in custody.
Vance’s attorney, Daniel Bittner, said his client was arrested at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“Her arrest is the result of a security lapse by the university and her presence in Cambridge is in violation of the terms of her employment agreement with the university,” he said in a statement.
“This is an incredibly unfortunate situation and I will work with the police to ensure the safety of all of our community members.”
A video of Vance’s arrest surfaced on social media.
The woman was detained for about a day, then released without being charged.
In the video, Vance appears to be standing in front of her desk while a man appears to talk to her on the phone.
The man then asks her why she hasn’t replied.
Vance replies, “I’m sorry, I just don’t have the time.”
Vance is one of the leading voices against the rising use of technology in the classroom.
She is a leading voice against the use of computers and technology in higher education.
She also has been a leading proponent of mandatory digital literacy for all teachers, arguing that many students are unprepared for it.
The University of California, Berkeley, suspended her teaching position on October 9.
She has also written several books on the subject.
The Boston University website said Vance was suspended after an investigation into the alleged incident began, but did not elaborate on the nature of the investigation.
The university has not commented on Vance’s detention or arrest.
A university spokesperson said it was “inappropriate” for a professor to be “harassed” and that the university would provide “full cooperation.”
The university said that Vance is a “highly respected” critic of academia and that she “was a leader in her field” who was “actively engaged in a sustained dialogue with faculty members and students on issues of importance.”
She has “a history of engaging in provocative or aggressive behavior,” the spokesperson said.
Vance was a co-founder of the Black Student Union at Harvard.
She was also an early supporter of Black Lives Matter and a prominent speaker on the issue.
“I have been deeply disturbed by the violent and threatening behavior of Professor Vance and her colleagues,” Harvard President Drew Faust said in an email to the university community on Wednesday.
“We all need to be mindful of how we respond to incidents like this, and we must never lose sight of the value of a safe learning environment.”
Vance’s legal troubles have drawn scrutiny for their similarity to recent incidents involving professors at the University of Wisconsin and the University at Albany.
On Tuesday, a student group called the Black Coalition for the Future published a statement accusing professors at both universities of violating the students’ rights by denying them access to the online lectures.
In a statement on Wednesday, the group said that professors at Boston University and the U. at Albany “refused to acknowledge the rights of their students, and were in fact attempting to silence them by denying their access to online lectures.”
The statement continued, “The Black Coalition is deeply disturbed that our university is allowing a professor who has committed numerous acts of violence against students and others, including those who have been injured or killed, to teach here.
A representative for Boston University did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “
In response to the students call for this action, the president of the Massachusetts Black Coalition called on the campus community to join us in denouncing these acts of harassment and intimidation and calling for a thorough investigation into these claims.”
A representative for Boston University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Vance is the first professor in the past several months to be charged in connection with the incidents.
In October, a faculty member at the City University of New York was arrested and charged after she allegedly threatened to expose students who spoke to her about the university’s sexual harassment policies.
The student also posted photos of her on social networks and claimed to have recorded a video of her threatening to expose other students to “f*ck your brains out.”
In February, a member of the faculty at the American University of Beirut was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill a student.
The professor is accused of having posted photos online of students with “black eye” stickers on their cars.
The American University was closed after the incident