College Professor Quickly ‘Cancelled’ After Face Mask Comment to Student From Wuhan

Missouri professor

A University of Missouri professor was recently “relieved of teaching duties” following an alleged xenophobic comment towards a Chinese student from Wuhan, China during a Zoom lecture.


What happened: Joel Poor, an associate teaching professor in the Trulaske College of Business, made the comment during a Zoom lecture on Monday morning, according to Columbia Missourian.

  • During the first day of his Marketing 3000 lecture, Poor asked if any of his students were from countries outside the United States. One student shared that he was from Wuhan.
  • The professor then joked, “Let me get my mask on.”
  • He went on to ask the student if he had any problems with traveling during the pandemic and whether he would be able to return home in the summer, as seen in the extended cut of the Zoom lecture posted by Twitter user @HazeFlave.
  • Poor offered his spare bedroom to the student “if things get tough.”

  • The incident ignited a discussion on Twitter after one of his students shared the interaction on social media.

Users against what happened: Meanwhile, others took to Twitter to speak out in defense of Poor. A petition titled “Keep Joel Poor as a University of Missouri Professor,” was started and amassed over 6,800 signatures as of this writing.

  • One Twitter user described the professor’s remark as a “misplaced dad joke.”

  • An entire Twitter account called Free JoelPoor was created in the professor’s defense.
  • One user noted how this incident could have been used as a “teaching moment.”

Aftermath: MU’s official Twitter account shared the video had been sent to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX after it went viral.

  • Poor will be “provided with due process,” the university said in a statement to ABC17.
  • “Today I was relieved of teaching duties, I apologize for any disruption this might cause you,” Poor said on Monday night through a Canvas notification.
  • In addition, Poor wrote an email apologizing for the joke he made during the Zoom lecture.
  • “To anyone who was offended by my comments, I sincerely apologize,” he said. “I have nothing but respect and love for the Chinese people and especially my students from China.”
  • Even though he was relieved of teaching duties, Poor remains on the payroll of the university.

Feature Image Screenshots via @MIZ_ISC_2020

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