At first, it wasn’t a problem. Then, all of the sudden, it became one.
Anita Britt joined St. Thomas University, a nonprofit co-ed Catholic college in Miami Gardens, Florida, in early January as the school’s chief financial officer. Before that, she was on the board of trustees and had co-chaired the advisory board for the college’s school of business for five years, Inside Higher Ed reported.
But after accepting a position on the board of American Outdoor Brands, formerly Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., in February, she was given an ultimatum: Resign from the board or leave the university.
At first, the Catholic institution supported Britt’s place on the board. Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale originally said there was no conflict between the two posts:
Ms. Britt’s position with American Outdoor Brands provides her the opportunity to participate in helping the company achieve its objectives of making our communities safer and [sic] that her role with the company does not conflict with her responsibilities here at St. Thomas.
Ms. Britt’s contributions to our organization are noteworthy, and we look forward to her continued participation in our leadership.
But then students started condemning Britt’s place on the gun manufacturer’s board, and the progressive MoveOn.org launched a petition calling on the former CFO to resign from the American Outdoor Brands board because the company “makes AR-15 style rifles.”
The pressure led Casale to change his mind. He released a new statement Tuesday:
“After my statement of this past Friday, it has become clear that many of the sensible and reasonable solutions to this gun epidemic, which have been discussed previously, were becoming less and less clear.
Accordingly, I advised Ms. Britt that she needed to make a choice of either resigning her role on American Outdoor Brands, or her role as CFO at St. Thomas University, but that she could not continue on both.
Ms. Britt informed me this afternoon that she has decided to resign her position at St. Thomas University. I have accepted Ms. Britt’s resignation as CFO of St. Thomas University.”
The controversy surrounding the entire ordeal stemmed from the shooting in mid-February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a 19-year-old gunman killed 17 people and injured more than a dozen others.
According to filings reviewed by the Miami Herald, American Outdoor Brands pays its board members more than $100,000 per year. Britt joined the company’s team on Feb. 6, eight days before the mass shooting in Parkland.