Students, Faculty Protest University President

Hundreds of USM students, teachers and faculty members staged another protest in Hattiesburg Tuesday afternoon, against university President Shelby Thames. The firing of two tenured professors in March sparked the protest.

Some protestors were armed with signs. Others were decked with stickers, but all those who gathered at Tuesday's protest shared the same opinion of university President Shelby Thames--that he should step down.

The protest stems from the March 5th suspension of two tenured professors, Gary Stringer and Frank Glamser. The President of the American Civil Liberties' Union addressed the crowd, criticizing the way Dr. Thames fired the two professors.

"And what's really frightening is the extent to which the firing of even tenured professors has not surprisingly cast a chilling effect over the rest of the campus. It makes other people afraid to speak out for fear that they may be next on the chopping block," said Nadine Strossen, National President of the ACLU.

This is the second campus protest over the professors' firings and many people said there are deeper rooted issues over Thames's leadership.

"Dr. Thames just wants the university to see things one way. His way. And that's no way to run a university," said student Drew Walker.

"Where is the funding for the academic departments? What happened to put money into learning, which is the basis of what a university is? Why put money into football and an arena when we already have sufficient sports housing?" said student Christa Jones.

Amber Huff wore a pin that expressed her feelings toward Thames.  "People are sick of misleadership. People are sick of scandal. People are sick of controversy. People are sick of cronyism, and what I've heard called nepotism. We're ready to stop that if we can. And we're ready for Dr. Thames to step down or be taken out of office here." Huff said.

A former supreme court justice is scheduled to hear Stringer and Glamser's cases on April 28. The ACLU has agreed to help represent the professors. Shelby Thames was unavailable for comment Tuesday.