Recent events have focused a negative spotlight on our University, to the deep concern of the greater Rutgers University community as well as the New Jersey, and even global, Jewish communities.
Remarks by Prof. Michael Chikindas and his posts on social media (as exposed in the algemeiner) express a base racism, homophobia, and misogyny which has no place in our university or our society. His vile anti-Semitism is a profound embarrassment to our University and a source of pain and bewilderment to our students, the largest Jewish undergraduate population in America, and to our alumni, parents, and supporters.
His remarks do not take place in a vacuum. The aforementioned article comes one day after white supremacist flyers were found littering the College Avenue Campus and two days after the announcement that another Rutgers professor, Jasbir Puar, will be publishing a book accusing the world’s only Jewish state of what amounts to a modern blood libel. Each of these incidents gives voice to traditional racist, anti-Jewish tropes. They both reflect and contribute to trends in our society in which the expression of extremism and prejudice have become common place and even acceptable.
These trends must be stopped. These actions must not be tolerated. These professors must be held accountable.
We certainly believe in free speech and academic freedom. But Chikindas’ expressions are not simply matters of misguided opinion, but of brutish intimidation. Any Jewish or gay student would rightly fear taking a class with a professor who publicly expresses such vicious and hateful prejudice.
Rutgers Hillel is confident that the leadership of Rutgers University shares our concerns. We welcome the statement released today by the University condemning Prof. Chikindas’ posts and announcing an investigation into the matter.https://news.rutgers.edu/rutgers-university-statement-professor-michael-chikindas%E2%80%99-comments/20171025#.WfDyW1uPKUk
On his own initiative, Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Debasish Dutta met personally today with Rutgers Hillel executive director Andrew Getraer and senior associate director Rabbi Esther Reed, to assure us that the University takes this issue very seriously and that there will be accountability. We are united in the conviction that Jewish students should not and will not face open antisemitism from the faculty of our State University. Rutgers Hillel applauds the sensitivity and integrity of the University leadership in this matter and we await its concrete actions to resolve this issue.
Despite these serious and disturbing matters, we reaffirm our confidence that “Rutgers Is a Great Place To Be Jewish.” Rutgers is home to 6,400 Jewish undergraduates as well as the newest, largest, and most beautiful Jewish campus facility in the country — the Eva and Arie Halpern Hillel House on the Wilf Family Campus. Four hundred students come together at Hillel each week to celebrate and enjoy a free Shabbat dinner. Hundreds of Rutgers students will be traveling to Israel with Hillel this winter. Our student leaders are nationally recognized. Rutgers has one of the finest Jewish Studies Departments in the country. Rutgers students can walk down College Avenue with pride, free to express their Jewishness in any way they see fit.
We call upon the entire Rutgers community, administration, faculty, students, parents and alumni, to unite in condemnation of this vile prejudice and to ensure that Rutgers remains one of the premier institutions in the nation for Jewish students – and for everyone.