In a full staff meeting for the College of Arts and Sciences earlier this semester, professor of physical sciences Thomas Brennan revealed that he is a COVID-19 denier, leaving a comment that concerned many faculty members.
The Torch obtained a photo of the zoom chat from the meeting, which shows Brennan made a comment in the live chat that read “The pandemic and riots are a leftist stunt to overthrow the United States government and destroy our [civil] liberties.”
Interim Dean of College of Arts and Sciences Trinidy Williams sent an email out to faculty after the meeting saying she was addressing the incident and would take any action she deemed appropriate. Williams called Brennan’s comment “unprofessional behavior” and it “undermined the gravity” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These actions offended many meeting participants, several of whom have written to express their concerns…These actions are unacceptable and do not represent the mission and values of the College of Arts and Sciences, nor…University’s values and its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Williams said in the email. “The University values and takes great care to foster an inclusive environment free from demoralization and is committed to providing…the University community with a respectful and safe working and learning environment.”
Williams declined to meet with the Torch, as well as physical sciences department head David Frank.
A faculty member in the CAS meeting who saw the comment was “dismayed” by the comment and did not find it appropriate in that setting.
“Unfortunately, there are many people who for a variety of reasons, wish to sow misinformation and confusion,” they said. “This politicizing of the pandemic makes it more difficult for the society to effectively deal with this public health crisis…it’s particularly striking when a science professor pushes conspiracy theories challenging the scientific data.”
Brennan has also allegedly been tied to a Twitter account under his name, and tweets calling COVID-19 a hoax, those who wear masks cowards and other opinions about COVID-19 that align with the comment made in the meeting. The profile picture on the account was identified as one of Brennan through a simple eye test and his full name is used on the account.
A tweet from Oct. 4, 2019, identifies Brennan, saying “I’m a professor of physics and astronomy at Ferris State University in Michigan.” The last public tweet about COVID-19 from the account reads “Covid19 is simply (their) attempt to turn us all into slaves. They’ve failed.”
Brennan declined to speak to the Torch in any capacity multiple times, but after specifically asked about the Twitter account in an email, the account was made private.
The account’s other tweets in regard to COVID-19 say things such as:
“Guess what the covid stunt has failed. You won’t get your leftist new world order.”
“Covid19 is another jewish revolution.”
“F— this evil wizard,” in reference to a video of Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Stand up for yourselves people, and stop falling for this corona virus hoax!”
“I’d say covid-19 is fake. An evil medical system just killed a bunch of old people.”
Other tweets take to conspiracy theories for the cause of COVID-19, which many of the tweets attribute to cellphones.
“Could be as simple as: Corona virus is partly caused by cell phones, wifi, and not just 5G, but 4G and 3G. When 2G/3G started, I could feel it. In 2005, I got mysteriously short of breath. It was horrible. Apricot pits helped me recover. You could easily confuse that for corona.”
“The coronavirus is actually nanotechnology emitted by cell phones and computers—weaponized smell-o-vision.”
According to a student currently in Brennan’s class, he frequently talks about his conspiracy theories on cellphones in class. A rate my professor review said Brennan “has several conspiracy theories that he will spend most or all of lecture talking about instead of the material.”
“He was literally my physics professor for two semesters, he talked like he is near god. He was absolutely the worst professor I have ever had. He is the biggest egotistical asshole,” said one of Brennan’s students, who wished to remain anonymous to avoid backlash from any university body.
Screenshots of tweets from this May were sent to the Torch, with at least 12 tweets using racial slurs. The Torch also discovered tweets with homophobic slurs and antisemitic language, one using the word “fag,” and numerous tweets talking about the “Jewish mafia.”
The Torch reached out to Brennan several times. Brennan’s superiors and members of administration refused to comment and President David Eisler was not available for comment.