After what felt like a painfully deliberative response period, Rutgers University has levied punitive measures on a professor who was found to have posted, bigoted, discriminatory, and anti-Semitic material on social media.
In a letter to faculty, Rutgers President Robert Barchi and Chancellor Deba Dutta said the professor, Michael Chikindas, a tenured professor in the food science department, would be removed from teaching required courses, removed from his leadership position as director of the Center for Digestive Health at the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health, and would be be required to participate in a cultural sensitivity training program.
The letter reads:
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 pre-requisite to learning.
Barchi and Dutta wrote that Chikindas could also be subject to additional disciplinary action through procedures in the university’s collective bargaining agreement with the faculty union.
It’s a terrific turn of events, but one that seems like it could have happened a bit sooner, and certainly without Barchi’s inelegant defense of the 1st Amendment last month during a presentation to the Rutgers University Student Assembly, where he said:
You may not like what the guy says, but you have to like the fact that he can say it. We always say that. ‘I hate what you’re saying, I disagree with everything you’re saying, but I’m gonna die protecting your right to say it.’”
Yes, we get it, but not quite the tone you want to strike when you have a professor in your ranks posting bigoted, anti-Semitic material.
Good on Rutgers for taking decisive action, though.