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Update: More harassment allegations surface against “The Science Femme” Twitter account

Courtesy of The University of New Hampshire

A white male professor in the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Chemistry Department is at the center of allegations of posing as a woman of color (WOC) on Twitter. The professor has been placed on leave and is no longer teaching. Numerous individuals have since come forward stating that they had been harassed by the account.  

The Science Femme Twitter (@piney_the) account, allegedly run by Craig Chapman, and Chapman’s personal account were deleted on Sept. 29.  

Dr. Gina Chaput, a molecular microbiologist at North Carolina State University, first interacted with The Science Femme on Sept. 26, when an account she followed was harassed by them. She “liked” some of that account’s tweets to defend her. 

In response to Chaput’s “liking” of the tweets, she said Chapman falsely accused her of violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules. In the tweet Chapman posted a picture of Chaput, tagging OSHA and others, and noting her lack of eye protection and her use of headphones.  

Chaput said she took the photo before her wetlab work began and Chapman’s tweet “was a clear attempt to harm my career. Everything they were saying was false…their goal was to ruin my reputation before I started my career.” On September 26, Chaput liked tweets from an individual defending themselves against Chapman. She believes The Science Femme’s tweet toward her were in response to this previous social media reaction.  

Susanna Harris, post doctorate at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill, works in digital science communication and supports her graduate students through her company Ph.D. Balanced. 

Harris was informed of The Science Femme when friends of hers on Twitter were upset by the account’s claims and tweets. “I took a look at it back then, and I have dealt with people who have claimed to be others for a while. A lot of tweets did not seem genuine.”  

“I was hoping other people would come to that same conclusion – that it was a troll account that people would ignore,” Harris said.   

“After calling [The Science Femme] out, I posted a few things,” she said to The New Hampshire. “Somebody sent them the information about what happened with Mike Adams, the professor at UNC-Wilmington earlier in the summer.” 

Adams gained national attention from his social media posts that were viewed as racist, sexist, and homophobic in nature. Over the summer Harris called for Adams’ removal from UNC-Wilmington. In July, Adams committed suicide. The Science Femme account discovered these tweets and used them to link Harris to Adams. 

She said The Science Femme accused her of having a role in the death of Adams.  

“I did want him to be removed from the university, and I helped propel that discussion,” Harris said. “There’s a difference between wanting someone to get fired and wanting them to die. This person…used that information directly against me. At first, it was ‘this person is a bad person’ to by the end of it saying that ‘I had a direct hand in his death’ and all the way going to say ‘I had killed him.’” 

Harris said Chapman’s allegations were extremely damaging, especially because a lot of her work is conducted through social media. She started to get anonymous messages through her website, and had her email used to make accounts on pornographic websites.  

In his email to graduate students and staff, the chair of the UNH Chemistry department Glen Miller condemned Chapman’s actions, but expressed his personal support of him, and hoped this wouldn’t end his career. 

A petition has also circulated among the student body, calling for the immediate removal of Chapman, with multiple individuals coming forward alleging harassment.   

Some Twitter users have called the posing as a woman of color online “digital blackface,” a new form of racism in the digital sphere. 

Chapman has not responded to request for comment and Miller declined to comment as per UNH Human Resources.  

On Sept. 30, UNH announced that they were launching an investigation into “allegations on social media about a member of our faculty.” It is not confirmed that this investigation and the allegations against Chapman are related. 

“In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, the university is unable to comment further,” Mantz said in a statement to The New Hampshire. 

Photo Courtesy of the University of New Hampshire

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  • J

    James KelleyOct 9, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    While I don’t necessarily condone the actions of Professor Chapman, I think a mountain is being made out of a mole hill here. Who among us hasn’t used a pseudonymous screen name at one time or other? Has no one ever gotten into a jousting match over ideological, sporting, political, or any other disagreement online and said things under cover of anonymity that we might not be so inclined to say in person? What ever happened to people in glass houses not throwing stones?
    Furthermore, I think the irony of this situation is being lost One of his alleged victims has come forward to detail the abuse she suffered, which was apparently that he pointed out that she appeared to be in violation of OSHA standards in a photo she had posted. She states that “was a clear attempt to harm my career. Everything they were saying was false…their goal was to ruin my reputation before I started my career” as she comes forward to ruin his reputation and harm his career.
    Little by little and bit by bit, we’re losing out ability to think or speak freely anymore. Under the auspices of “political correctness”, we’re all being subjected to a totalitarian form of thought policing which often results in severe damages both in terms of reputation and professionally. It’s a slippery slope between an angry overreaction to an online slight and using a system of thought control to strip away society’s ability to effectively communicate.
    I think it would behoove all UNH students if they haven’t already to read George Orwell’s “1984”, “Animal Farm”, and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and to consider those works in the context of both this witch hunt and the current coronavirus scandal. Once we become subject to totalitarian rule, it will be very difficult if not impossible to ever escape.
    And take off your slave muzzles and refuse mandatory testing.
    James Kelley
    B.A. Economics
    UNH class of 1995

    • S

      SamOct 12, 2020 at 7:32 pm

      Unh absolutely has a problem of racism and intolerance, and a white dude admitting to shutting down attempts at addressing that internally and harassing people who did it at other colleges is more than a political disagreement. Chapman tagging osha on someone else’s photo because of a political disagreement and using his position in the chem department to further his “anti-woke” agenda is what political repression looks like. He also reposted what was essentially revenge porn of a former congresswoman, and generally mocked those “far left” ideas of like equity and anti-racism, which he called toxic ideologies. I’d say that goes beyond your average online argument. Meanwhile, the only thing these stories are doing is sharing stuff he actually said or did, just sources and information. If the author or the woman he tried to get osha to notice started making fun of him for his interests, religion, or appearance, or doxxed him, or like blamed him for all racism in America or something ridiculous then yeah it’d be ironic harassment on their end. They don’t even editorialize on his beliefs or actions, just report them.
      While we’re talking about pseudonyms, Eric Blair used a pseudonym because many publishers didn’t want anything to do with a known socialist, and he didn’t want to bring his family into the ridicule he received as a result of that. He didn’t try to present himself in a way that would make him look better, just in a way that would shelter his family. Chapman seems to have posed as an immigrant woman of color so that he could have a “gotcha” when people called his alt account out for being bigoted. If the only thing being done to him are exposing his own beliefs, actions, and words, it isn’t political oppression. Totalitarianism and political oppression does not come from student newspapers highlighting harassment of someone with potential power over them and support from the school, it comes from institutions and those with power within them. Hell, a huge reason more people haven’t read 1984 and animal farm is because they got banned by school boards and state governments for “communist sympathies.”
      But yeah, wearing a mask and not being able to troll people you don’t like on Twitter is slavery. Sure.