A former National Guard colonel apologized but will keep her professor job after saying sexual harassment is the 'price of admission for women' in the military

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Betsy Schoeller, a college lecturer and former member of the Wisconsin Air Guard, apologized for her comments made in Facebook group about the murder of Vanessa Guillén, a 20-year-old solider.
Betsy Schoeller, a college lecturer and former member of the Wisconsin Air Guard, apologized for her comments made in Facebook group about the murder of Vanessa Guillén, a 20-year-old solider.

University of Wisconsin , Fort Hood

  • Betsy Schoeller, a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and retired member of the Wisconsin Air Guard, apologized for her comments in a Facebook group on a news article about murdered US Army soldier Vanessa Guillén.

  • Schoeller wrote that "sexual harassment is the price of admission for women into the good ole boy club" and "if you're gonna cry like a snowflake about it, you're gonna pay the price."

  • A petition to remove Schoeller as a lecturer from UWM has amassed more than 135,000 signatures, but the university said "legal reasons" concerning her right to freedom of speech won't let it fire her.

  • Schoeller wrote that her comments were taken out of context and she meant to give a "voice" to harmful messaging that women are subjected to and to point out the "culture of sexual harassment." 

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A college professor and retired colonel in the Wisconsin Air National Guard apologized, but will keep her job, after her comments in a private Facebook group Friday about sexual harassment allegations leveled by a since-murdered soldier were made public and circulated on social media. 

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, Betsy Schoeller, a longtime lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and a retired Wisconsin Air Guard colonel, made comments on a news article about the death of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, a soldier at Fort Hood in Texas, whose dismembered body was discovered by Army investigators last week.

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"You guys are kidding, right?" Schoeller wrote in the comments of a news article about Guillén's murder in a private Facebook group for veterans. "Sexual harassment is the price of admission for women into the good ole boy club. If you're gonna cry like a snowflake about it, you're gonna pay the price."

Guillén, 20, had prior to her disappearance reportedly told her family members about the sexual harassment she experienced, according to CBS News. Guillén went missing at the Fort Hood base in Texas on April 22 and her partial remains, which were found dismembered and burned, were found on July 1. Guillén had been missing for over two months, according to the report.

According to CBS News, police identified soldier Aaron David Robinson as a suspect in her death. Cecily Aguilar, a 22-year-old civilian from a community near Fort Hood, was charged for her alleged involvement in hiding Guillén's body. Aguilar confessed and told investigators Robinson killed Guillén by repeatedly striking her with a hammer at Fort Hood on April 22, according to the report. 

Robinson died by suicide when confronted by authorities on July 1, according to reports.

Schoeller said her comment was taken out of context

In a statement on Sunday, Schoeller said her comments were taken out of context and were written to give a "voice" to the harmful messaging that women are subjected to and what she called a "culture of sexual harassment" and was trying to answer another person's comment about "how" and "why" Guillén was killed.

"The message we receive from the culture is not only will you suffer from sexual harassment, if you squawk about it, you will suffer even more," Schoeller, a senior lecturer at UWM's School of Information Studies, wrote, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

She added: "Because it isn't just the sexual harassment. That's just the beginning. Then comes the agonizing decision about reporting. Or not reporting. The pressure applied by friends who know about it and only want to help. Having to ultimately stand up to that culture of sexual harassment on your own."

Schoeller did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. 

Schoeller, who retired in 2017 after spending 23 years in the Air Force, Air Force Reserves, and Air National Guard, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she herself had been sexually harassed while serving in the military.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the Wisconsin National Guard called Schoeller's remarks "tasteless and insensitive." 

 

"That individual's comments and conduct are inconsistent with our values as an organization, and we do not condone them in any way. And while we cannot regulate the speech of former members of our organization, as an organization we are fully committed to ensuring the safety of our Soldiers and Airmen," it said.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said it can't legally terminate Schoeller for her 'repugnant' comment

Despite growing support for her termination, including a Change.org petition that's gained more than 135,000 signatures since it was posted on Friday, the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee said in a statement Sunday it couldn't end her employment with the school due to "legal reasons." 

"There are legal reasons why UWM cannot fire Ms. Schoeller for her social media postings, as some have demanded," the school said in the statement. "This type of speech is protected by the First Amendment, as UWM cannot regulate the private speech of its employees."

It called her comments "repugnant" and said they were "terribly at odds with UVM's values." 

"UWM in no way condones Ms. Schoeller's comments, and we understand and empathize with the outrage and concerns we are hearing," it said.

It added: "UWM is proud to be the largest educator of veterans in the state of Wisconsin and stands in solidarity with those opposed to violence against women, and anxiously awaits justice for SPC Guillén and her family."

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