BLACKSBURG, Va. – All charges have been dropped against a teaching assistant at Virginia Tech following a controversial Facebook post.
Mark Neuhoff called himself a "white supremacist" in that post back in August. A student then shared it, which prompted him to post again, threatening the student. Neuhoff said he didn't write the threat, and the university has now confirmed someone else posted to his profile.
On Monday, Nov. 6, a group of more than a hundred marched across Virginia Tech's drill field calling for the school to remove Neuhoff from his teaching position. He faced a number of charges including harassment and disorderly conduct, but was found not responsible by both the Virginia Tech Office of Student Conduct and the Office of Equity and Accountability. On Sunday night, he said the reaction and the disciplinary hearings that followed were all based on a misunderstanding.
It all began on Aug. 17th, when Neuhoff posted a comment on Facebook (featured above), beginning "I am a white supremacist."
"My private post where I'm responding to an innocent article by a popular conservative author shouldn't even be a story, it shouldn't matter," Neuhoff said.
But it did matter to hundreds at Virginia Tech who saw the post after it was shared.
"It's pretty much a snowball of misunderstandings that's picked up over time," Neuhoff said.
Neuhoff said he was responding to an article he read by author John Derbyshire, but when students saw it they didn't take it lightly.
"You read that and you think this guy, who's teaching at Virginia Tech, hates non-white people and wants to kill them. How horrible. Not true, that's not me," Neuhoff said.
10 News asked Neuhoff, if that's not him, what is?
"I think America has always been a majority white country, and I think it will be a concern if that changes ... many people think that itself is racist. That's fine. I mean, I don't think that's racist," Neuhoff said.
Virginia Tech didn't see it as hate speech either. In early October, university president Timothy Sands initially responded to the post, saying, "Our Principles of Community reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination and value human diversity. Yet, our Principles of Community and the U.S. Constitution also recognize the importance of free expression."
Furthermore, the university confirmed the threat was not sent by Neuhoff, saying, "Evidence gathered suggests that the October 2nd, 2017 Facebook post on Neuhoff's Facebook page was not actually made by Mark Neuhoff."
Although he's been absolved legally, he's still guilty according to many in the court of public opinion. 10 News asked Neuhoff what the future will hold.
"I'm still going to go to Virginia Tech, I'm still going to graduate, I'm just not going to be a teacher," Neuhoff said.
After that, Neuhoff hopes to become a technical writer, but he said just getting a job could be challenging.
"Now that this crisis seems to be being settled, how do I move forward now with my name being ruined? I'll probably have to change it, something like that," Neuhoff said.
10 News reached out to several people who took part in the march for a follow-up comment, but they declined. Students at the march expressed concern with Neuhoff staying on because of how his biases might affect students in the classroom. Neuhoff said he doesn't believe he is biased in his grading, and he said even if he was, the university has checks that would catch him.