LAS CRUCES – “Well, it’s official. I’ve been terminated.”
David Clements, a business college professor who took a public stand against New Mexico State University’s vaccine and masking mandates on campus, has been fired, he reported on the social networking site Telegram last Thursday.
On Monday, the university confirmed only that Clements “is no longer employed by NMSU.”
Clements’ post came days after an Oct. 4 hearing before university administrators in which Provost Carol Parker recommended Clements lose his tenure-track post, arguing he had made it clear he would not follow the university’s COVID-19 policies and would discourage others from doing so, presenting a disruption to the academic environment and public safety.
Clements took the unusual step of posting video of the entire hearing, which took place by videoconference, on the website Rumble. Clements used much of his allotted time to argue that those policies were illegal and to dispute predominant medical opinion about COVID-19 vaccines and testing as well as the benefits of public masking.
The professor, an attorney and former deputy district attorney in New Mexico’s 12th Judicial District, had been on paid administrative leave since August.
During the first week of classes, Clements posted video from one of his classes saying he would not comply with a campus directive that students and staffers document their vaccination against COVID-19 or submit to weekly tests. He also said that masks would be optional in his classroom, despite a policy requiring indoor masking in line with a state public health order.
While on leave, Clements has traveled to several states alleging election fraud over the 2020 presidential contest as well as opposing public health mandates related to COVID-19. An online fundraiser set up by a political ally had raised more than $280,000 in donations for Clements as of Monday.
At his hearing, which followed an internal investigation into his conduct, Clements did not dispute that he defied the university’s COVID-19 rules and attempted to litigate those policies as well as the medical basis for guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Health Department.
He also questioned the evidentiary basis for claims that he had created an intimidating environment for students and used his position to promote himself as a political and legal commentator. Clements has been a guest on numerous podcasts and cable news programs, including “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News.
Parker said Clements’ disputes about COVID-19 and public health strategies were beside the point.
“The subject matter of this inquiry is whether Mr. Clements has breached his employment contract by refusing to abide by the terms and conditions of employment, which require us to follow the policies of the university,” Parker said. “If one disagrees with the policy, they are free to work elsewhere.”
Clements posted the hearing on his Rumble channel, where he has 29,000 followers, with a title card labeling the video as “Law professor vs. The Marxists” and subtitles depicting Nazi swastikas while university administrators spoke.
Hearing officer Luis Cifuentes, dean of NMSU’s graduate school and vice president for research, had 10 days from the hearing to approve, reject or modify Parker’s proposal that Clements be fired.
Clements announced on Oct. 7 that he had been terminated. He did not respond to a query from the Las Cruces Sun-News.