More than 200 people have signed a petition to remove violinist and UC Berkeley private music instructor Dan Flanagan for a public 2012 Facebook post he made about Canadian violinist Lara St. John.
According to the petition, which was put up on the Change.org website two weeks ago by campus alumnus Pranav Sivakumar, Flanagan’s post read, “(Lara St. John)’s a beast… and she ought to be euthanized. And contrary to popular assumption, she’s not pregnant.”
“As a former Cal student, I am very disappointed that someone who has made such remarks is teaching there, even if only as a private instructor,” Sivakumar said in an email. “The Berkeley music department was like a second home to me during the two and a half years I lived on campus, and I would not have felt safe there knowing what I know now about Flanagan.”
Lara St. John, who was the subject of Flanagan’s post in 2012, could not be reached for comment.
Sivakumar noted that they started the petition after noticing that their feelings were shared by many in the music community. Many of those who commented on the petition were unhappy that Flanagan was allowed to continue teaching and playing in orchestras in the years after the post was made, according to Sivakumar.
The petition demands that Flanagan be immediately removed from his position in the campus music department. Sivakumar added that termination is the only correct step as the post was “misogynistic and dehumanizing.”
According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, campus administration had no comment and will take no action to discipline Flanagan.
“When acting in their private capacities, University employees in the United States have the same rights and responsibilities as any other member of the public, including freedom of speech, as guaranteed by our Constitution,” Gilmore said in an email. “At the same time, individual employees, including faculty, do not speak for or represent the values, perspectives or positions of the University.”
Sivakumar said in the email that they do not believe that “everyone should be canceled” for remarks made in the past, but they do believe that the strong language of Flanagan’s post and his position as a teacher for young people should make the issue impossible to ignore.
Sivakumar also alleged that there was “no evidence” of any apology in the past 10 years.
Flanagan commented otherwise in an email.
“This was a Facebook post from a little over ten years ago,” Flanagan said in the email. “I removed the post and apologized a few hours after posting it and apologized again this week. While I could provide more context to the post, there is no excuse and I sincerely regret my actions.”