Prof reportedly charged with assault against student protester, remains on leave

An assistant professor at Penn State University was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct after an incident with a counter protester at a pro-vaccine mandate rally.

Campus Reform spoke with students to get their reaction as the professor remains on leave.

Oliver Baker, an assistant professor of English and African American Studies at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), was reportedly charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct after an incident last year with a student counter-protester at a pro-vaccine mandate rally in August.

The charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct were dropped citing a lack of evidence, Inside Higher Ed reports.

[RELATED: Clemson issues mask mandate night before profs set to protest]

University news outlet Centre County Report posted a video of the incident in question on its Twitter account. 

Lisa M. Powers, a university spokesperson, confirmed to Campus Reform that Baker "remains on administrative leave" following the incident. 

“Given this is a personnel matter, we have no additional information to share," Powers said.

Inside Higher Ed reports that Baker may now be considering legal action against PSU. 

Campus Reform spoke with PSU students about the controversy. 

“I think that although the charges have been dropped, there is a certain standard to which we should hold our professors of whom we are paying a lot of money to learn from,” Christina Caputo told Campus Reform

[RELATED: Venezuelan émigré student calls on Penn State to remove prominently displayed Fidel Castro quote]

“Despite the charges being dropped I do think this professor should be fired because behavior of that sort is unacceptable, everyone is entitled to their opinion and if there is a protest going on people should be able to counter that protest with their views without things getting violent.”

When considering the fallout, Nick DeLuca focused on the vaccine mandate debate. 

“I would stand completely against a vaccine mandate on campus,” DeLuca said. “The decision of whether or not to take a drug should be up to the student and the student only."

Campus Reform has reached out to Oliver Baker for comment; this article will be updated accordingly. 

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