Rutgers Demotes Professor Accused of Publishing Anti-Semitic Posts on Social Media

Rutgers University / Wikimedia Commons
December 13, 2017

Rutgers University has punished a professor accused of publishing anti-Semitic, racist, sexist, homophobic posts on social media, allowing both students and faculty to avoid working with him if they wish.

Michael Chikindas, of the Department of Food Science at the New Jersey school, has been removed from teaching required courses and demoted from his position as director of Rutger's Center for Digestive Health at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, University President Robert Barchi and Chancellor Deba Dutta announced in a letter sent to the campus community on Friday.

The tenured professor will also be made to undergo cultural sensitivity training, according to the letter. The university is pursuing further disciplinary action through the faculty union.

Barchi and Dutta called the situation "sad and deeply troubling." The affair had "threatened the trust between professors and students that is a prerequisite to learning," they added.

Chikindas had posted dozens of anti-Semitic cartoons, comments promoting conspiracy theories that Jews orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and the Armenian genocide, and demeaning remarks about LGBTQ individuals and women.

Barchi previously condemned the content of Chikindas's comments, but defended his free expression rights.

In last week's statement, Barchi said the posts "perpetuated toxic stereotypes" and recognized the widespread concerns expressed in recent months by students and staff as "justified and understandable."

Rena Nasar, the tri-state campus director of StandWithUs, an Israel education organization, said, "While we were concerned about previous statements made by the Rutgers administration, we are glad they did the right thing in the end."

Chikindas has repudiated the charges of anti-Semitism and claimed his Facebook page may have been hacked.