After some worrying comments by Rutgers President Robert Barchi defending professor Michael Chikindas – whose vile antisemitism I exposed – I was not optimistic he would be disciplined or sanctioned in any way.
I am glad to report it looks like he will be.
A letter to faculty members by Rutgers University’s president and chancellor and obtained Friday by The Jewish Link, indicates that a tenured professor will be held accountable for his explosively anti-Semitic remarks made on social media earlier this year.
After the results of an initial internal investigation, Professor Michael Chikindas “was found to have posted extensive bigoted, discriminatory, and anti-Semitic material on social media. This material perpetuated toxic stereotypes and was deeply upsetting to Jewish students, faculty, and staff across our community. The fears and concerns they have expressed to us and many university leaders are both justified and understandable,” said President Robert Barchi and Chancellor Deba Dutta, in the letter.
“While aspects of the disciplinary process remain confidential, we are taking the following actions today as a result of that investigation:
“1) Professor Chikindas will be removed from teaching required courses. No Rutgers student will be required to take a course that he teaches. 2) He has been removed from his leadership position as director of the Center for Digestive Health at the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health. No Rutgers employee will be required to work in an administrative unit that he heads. 3) He will be required to participate in a cultural sensitivity training program, and will be subject to ongoing monitoring if and when he returns to the classroom. 4) Finally, Professor Chikindas has been notified that the university is seeking further disciplinary action through procedures required by Appendix H of the collective bargaining agreement with our faculty union.”
“This has been a sad and deeply troubling situation for our students and our staff, and for our faculty, who stand for much nobler values than those expressed by this particular professor. While the university is and should always be a place that challenges students to grapple with complex and even controversial ideas, this situation has threatened the trust between professors and students that is a prerequisite to learning,” wrote Barchi and Dutta.
Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers University, initially defended professors at the school who have been accused of making anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments, stating that these remarks fall under the category of “academic freedom.”
At a recent student government-sponsored town hall meeting, Barchi discussed Facebook posts by microbiology professor Michael Chikindas, first reported in the pro-Israel blog Israellycool, that called Judaism “the most racist religion in the world,” and also made inappropriate jokes about Judaism and Israel, women and homosexuals. Chikindas also shared anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including that Israel perpetrated the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U.S. Barchi noted that though the posts may have been extremely offensive, they were still protected speech under the first amendment. He did, however, say that the situation is being investigated to determine whether the posts created a work environment that would compromise Chikindas’ ability to teach or do research, although it appeared from subsequent statements that he believed the professor was unlikely to be terminated.