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Accounting Professor placed on leave for playing Hitler parody “Downfall” meme in class

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In December, accounting professor Catherine West Lowry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst was placed on leave until the end of the term after a student complained about videos being played in her classroom.

Lowry has taught at the university for more than ten years, offering extra credit to students who submit satirical YouTube videos that students can vote on.

However, two of the videos this time around were found offensive by a student, who made an anonymous complaint about the professor. One was a parody clip depicting Hitler and another was a parody of the song “Bust Down Thotiana,” which was alleged to be demeaning to women.

“Senior Lecturer Catherine Lowry will not teach Accounting 221 for the balance of the fall semester,” university spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said in a statement regarding the incident.

Lowry has issued a public apology to her students. She also spoke to The Boston Globe saying “This has been pretty traumatic for me because I’ve spent two and a half decades building a career of connecting to students. This is my career, this is my life.” With the new term coming up, Lowry has yet to be reinstated.

The video in question was a parody of the 2004 film, “Downfall,” one of the internet’s most popular meme formats, which there have been hundreds of versions created online.

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Lowry says she has around 700 videos from past courses and that the accounting parody version of the meme that caused the outrage this year is about 10 years old and has been shown in many previous classes over the years.

However, when she showed the video this year, the chair of the department called her to say a student had complained about it, she says. She has since been pulled from the Accounting 221 class where the video was shown.

Lowry has not been reinstated and it is unclear if and when she will be allowed back in her position.

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