Update, July 3, 3:02 p.m. ET:

Amid widespread protest due to his role in the poisoning of Flint’s water, former Michigan Governor Rick Synder has “turned down” a senior research fellowship at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. On July 3, shortly after 12:30 ET, he tweeted:


On Monday (July 1), one of the United’s States’ most highly regarded academic institutions welcomed a politician who is at the center of one of the country’s most insidious tragedies in recent history.

Rick Snyder, former Republican governor of Michigan, was seated on Monday as a senior research fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In that role, Snyder will teach, study and write on subjects related to state and local government, reports The New York Times.

Snyder, who left office in January, was governor when the Flint water crisis began in April 2014. An emergency manager that he appointed to run the majority Black city opted to switch the water source from the Great Lakes Water Authority to the Flint River to save money. The result was a doubling of the percentage of Flint children with elevated levels of lead in their blood, a decrease in fertility and an increase in infant deaths as a result of the lead. Twelve people died from Legionnaires’ disease linked to the toxic water, while approximately another 90 residents contracted it and lived—making it the third largest outbreak of Legionnaires’ in U.S. history.

Last month, search warrants were issued for the phone and hard drive Snyder used while in office, as part of a state investigation into the crisis. Also in June, NPR reported that state prosecutors dropped criminal charges against eight government officials implicated in the scandal so they could launch a new, expanded investigation.

According to CNN:

Harvard’s statement makes no mention of Snyder’s role in implementing and overseeing the law under which the emergency managers were appointed or the governor’s role in overseeing those state officials.

Professor Jeffrey Liebman [director of the Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government] commends Snyder in the statement for his “significant expertise in management, public policy and promoting civility.”

Many took to Twitter Monday using the hashtag #NoSnyderFellowship to call out the appointment as inappropriate and to demand that Harvard rescind it. Among them is Mari Copeny, who gained global recognition as “Little Miss Flint” for calling national attention to the crisis. Others urged people to sign a petition titled “Rescind Governor Snyder’s Harvard Kennedy School Fellowship.”