CNU Scholar-in-Residence responds to controversial tweet

Sophia Nelson.jpg
Posted at 3:50 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 18:01:52-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A former adjunct professor and current Scholar-in-Residence at Christopher Newport University in Newport News is embroiled in a controversy.

It's all stemming from a tweet Sophia Nelson put out two weeks ago that many students at the university are calling homophobic.

In the tweet, Nelson calls out the portrayal of bisexual DC comic book characters as unnecessary, asking if Christian parents reading comic books want their children exposed to bisexual characters. Nelson has since taken the tweet taken down.

Screengrab of tweet

But, that didn't stop students, angered and pained by her tweet and signing a petition for her removal from the university, from holding a protest on campus Monday.

In a Tuesday morning exclusive phone interview with News 3, Nelson told us that she believes her tweet was cherry-picked and taken out of context, but added that she realizes since she is associated with the university, she shouldn't have been as reckless with her words.

However, she says the way CNU handled her trying to fix the situation was handled poorly.

"I was first was alerted there was a problem with my tweet on October 13. I got a call from Dean Underwood," said Nelson.

Two days after Nelson gave her opinion on bisexuality, she says the siege on her began.

"I first said, 'Oh my God, I will take it down immediately. I am worried about the kids,'" said Nelson.

Nelson, who describes herself as a conservative Christian, says she has no opinion on bisexuality, even after her tweet. She says the subsequent tweet thread after should express that she accepts all.

"I don't think it's appropriate to sexualize any comic book characters," she said.

Nelson a journalist and author with a free-ranging platform, does express remorse regarding how her comments may have been ingested by the LGBTQ student community.

"It's a learning curve, and I clearly got it wrong," she said.

Nelson says she asked to come to the university immediately to have an open dialogue and a forum but was denied by CNU.

"I was ready to come down - like, get in my car, let's do this now - but they wanted to wait," she told News 3.

Nelson says in the days after the tweet, she felt her head was on a platter after an email from Dr. Danielle Stern, a communications professor, was widely distributed four days after the tweet.

"I felt I needed to speak up and take administration to task. It's not the first time I have written an open, public letter," said Stern.

Stern, who identifies as bisexual, says her interest was in protecting marginalized people from those seeking to shame or harm them.

"It was unbelievable what she sent out. It was horrific," Nelson responded.

Nelson sent out an apology tweet and then sent a letter to the editor of the CNU student newspaper, but it was pulled because of its length.

"I don't think the students have been told what is going on behind the scenes," said Nelson. "I can't access them on campus or ability to send a broad email, so I am sitting in corner, not able to talk."

CNU President Paul Trible responded on October 15 with a letter stating the university will "heal and do the work" after noting the tweet caused "real damage" on campus.

"I think this was all handed poorly. We shouldn't have ended up in this place; we should have had dialogue immediately," said Nelson. "I no longer trust anyone associated with this to do anything that is in my best interest."

CNU administration said Tuesday they plan to have Nelson on campus November 9 to meet with the campus community and said that's the earliest "her schedule" would allow.

Nelson says she will decide Monday on if she will come or decide to part ways with the university.