A Rutgers University professor has been demoted after the conclusion of an investigation into his anti-Semitic and racist social media posts.
Michael Chikindas, who is a tenured professor, has been removed from teaching required courses and will be required to participate in a cultural sensitivity training program.
In a letter sent to Rutgers faculty Friday morning, University President Robert Barchi and Chancellor Debasish Dutta announced that students would not have to fulfill any necessary course requirements taught by Chikindas, a professor in the Department of Food Science. He also was removed from his position as director of the Center for Digestive Health at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health.
The anti-Semitic material posted by Chikindas “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,” read the letter.
— Adam Milstein (@AdamMilstein) October 30, 2017
The posts included caricatures of hook-nosed Jews; canards that the Jews control Hollywood, the Federal Reserve and the government; and that Israel is committing genocide and is a “terrorist country.”
Chikindas blamed the Armenian genocide on Jewish Turks and republished claims that American Jews and Israel were responsible for the 9/11 attacks, among other anti-Semitic claims.
Some 3,200 students signed a petition calling for Chikindas’s suspension from the university, the student newspaper The Daily Targum reported.
Michael Chikindas @RutgersU Professor of food science who posted #AntiSemitic cartoons to his Facebook page, Disciplined & Removed From Teaching Required Courses @Israellycool https://t.co/j2It84m46l pic.twitter.com/GLTNpsxTAE
— Adam Milstein (@AdamMilstein) December 9, 2017
“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,” the administrators’ letter also said.
Rutgers, the biggest state university in New Jersey, has among the largest Jewish student populations of any US university.