An archaeology professor has retired from University of Pennsylvania after facing calls that he be fired for using a Nazi salute and greeting during a video conference in response to another attendee who wouldn’t let him speak.
Anthropology Department chair Kathleen Morrison announced in a short tweet Monday that Robert Schuyler would be leaving.
Confirmation of Schuyler’s retirement came in an addition to a January 13 statement from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences that had condemned his behavior.
“As of January 25, 2021, Professor Schuyler has retired from our faculty,” was added to the end of the statement, which had earlier notified that his classes had been canceled.
“I’m pleased that current and future students and colleagues no longer have to deal with the hostile work environment that Schuyler was complicit in creating,” Liz Quinlan, a doctoral student who was the target of Schuyler’s gesture, told Science in a Tuesday report. “I am disappointed that he gets to skip any true accountability by moving directly to retirement, but I understand that this was one of the best-case scenarios,” given that Schuyler had tenure.
Schuyler, an associate professor of anthropology and associate curator-in-charge of the historical archaeology section at the Penn Museum, made the gesture during the annual Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) conference earlier this month.
⚠️Content Warning: This video contains tactics of harassment and intimidation, as well as a Nazi gesture and language. (4/6) pic.twitter.com/OfgmioSXAf
— Dr. Kristina Killgrove (@DrKillgrove) January 9, 2021
During the conference session, Liz Quinlan, a doctoral student at the University of York, was invited to speak about her work as the accessibility and inclusion coordinator for the conference.
Schuyler, who was SHA president in 1982, raised a question about how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was affecting SHA membership renewals.
“This is not the place for you to bring this up,” Quinlan told him.
“I’m sorry, but I have freedom of speech and you’re not going to tell me this is not the place for me to bring this up,” Schuyler responded.
As Quinlan tried to continue talking about her topic, Schuyler reportedly said, “Sieg Heil to you.”
“Sieg Heil,” a Nazi greeting, means “Hail Victory.”
Video of the incident was shared on social media, with some suggesting that Schuyler had in fact said “Heil to you.”
The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university’s independent student media organization, reported at the time that a student petition had been launched to have Schuyler fired.
Schuyler told the paper that he made the gesture because he felt his freedom of speech was being suppressed and that his actions were an attempt to reference Nazi Germany’s limitations on free speech. He said he regretted what he had done and does not endorse Nazism.
The DP, citing Federal Election Commission data, reported that Schuyler has been affiliated with right-wing organizations and since 2019 donated hundreds of dollars to US President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee, and other right-wing organizations.