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March 6, 2016 7:43 am

Oberlin Board Condemns Faculty Member’s ‘Antisemitic, Abhorrent’ Social Media Posts

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Oberlin College. Photo: Wikipedia

Oberlin College. Photo: Wikipedia

The Oberlin College Board of Trustees released a statement Saturday condemning the “antisemitic” social media postings of a professor whose comments have generated negative publicity since their exposure on Feb. 25 by The Tower.

The statement, issued by Clyde McGregor on behalf of the board as a response to the postings of Joy Karega, Prof. of Rhetoric and Composition, reads as follows:

At our quarterly Board meeting yesterday, the Trustees of Oberlin College discussed postings on social media by an Oberlin faculty member.

These postings are antisemitic and abhorrent. We deplore antisemitism and all other forms of bigotry. They have no place at Oberlin.

These grave issues must be considered expeditiously. In consultation with President Marvin Krislov, the Board has asked the administration and faculty to challenge the assertion that there is any justification for these repugnant postings and to report back to the Board.

From its founding, Oberlin College has stood for inclusion, respect, and tolerance. We still do.

The statement came on the heels of a meeting Friday between Oberlin President Marvin Krislov and his senior staff with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Cleveland chapters of the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League and the Hillel Foundation. After the meeting, the Jewish groups released a statement, an excerpt of which reads:

In a welcoming atmosphere, we discussed, openly and candidly, the potential implications of a professor’s personal views on classroom activity and student intimidation. We also discussed our shared respect for academic freedom.

The administration is taking its role seriously. President Krislov and his team are committed to providing a safe environment on campus for all students, regardless of religion … Oberlin College and representatives of the Cleveland Jewish community are working collaboratively to recommend programming that can facilitate a positive discourse on campus to address the consequences and sources of antisemitism.

All parties understand and accept that the college is required to follow established academic procedures when addressing questions regarding an individual faculty member. The Jewish community members present were satisfied that Oberlin College is following those procedures and look forward to learning the outcome of that process.

Krislov’s initial response to the revelations in The Tower was to defend Karega’s right to free speech, while emphasizing that her views were personal and not those of the college. This sparked outrage from a number of alumni, as reported earlier this week by The Algemeiner.

Krislov followed his first response with another, more personal and more forceful one, but one that still fell short in the eyes of critics, for not clearly identifying Karega’s posts as antisemitic.

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  • Ellenl

    Don’t bother blathering, Oberlin. Just do the right thing and get rid of that professor tout de suite. We don’t want American children to be indoctrinated by professors in lieu of receiving an unbiased education. Get rid of her. Do it now.

  • ed richard

    President Krislov’s two responses regarding Joy Karega are extremely disappointing. They do not speak well for him or for Oberlin! The statement by the board is also weak and watered-down.

  • MrAlf

    This irony is on the Oberlin website:

    “Oberlin has been on the front lines
    of changing the world for almost two centuries,
    often serving as the prototype for progress
    even in the face of strong resistance.”

    and also this:

    “Oberlin is a place of
    intense energy and creativity,
    built on a foundation of
    academic, artistic, & musical excellence.
    With its longstanding commitments to
    access, diversity, & inclusion,
    Oberlin is the ideal laboratory in which to
    study and design the world we want.”

    ( and I personally think NOT )

  • Dr. Stephen Steinlight

    Now it is time to take the next step, one that will resound mightily across the academic world: the Board of Trustees should fire Oberlin’ president for malfeasance and nonfeasance. His use of the high principle of “academic freedom” to defend the scabrous hate-mongering of an unhinged faculty member undermines its very essence. Academic freedom exists to defend rational if unpopular ideas in a world of open discourse. Nothing resembles that model less than Karega’s posting. My guess is the President Krislov either lacks the moral clarity, understanding of what constitutes a discourse community or courage to have taken action against Karega. And perhaps out of fear of what he imagined would be the Board of Trustees disapproval. He made a horrendous decision, also one which was disastrous for this once-well regarded institution. The Board should do a housecleaning starting with Karega but ending with her enabler: President Krislov.

  • J.J. Surbeck

    Whenever a professor shows his or her true colors and expresses views that are abhorrent, such as these blatantly anti-Semitic ones, there should be only one swift answer from the college administration: FIRE HER! There is no free speech left when one veers into hate speech, which anti-Semitism is. Joy Karega has proven to be unworthy of the trust given to her to guide the students she teaches to. Get rid of that bad apple right now. Don’t wait.

  • Jane

    The fact that the faculty member espouses stupidity and lies speaks to her lack of intellect. So that’s the first way that Oberlin looks bad. And the Oberlin administration’s wishy-washy response makes the second way it looks bad.
    If this had been a white professor making nasty Facebook comments about, say, blacks, or Muslims, you can believe the official Oberlin reaction would’ve been very – different.
    There is a blatant double standard here!

  • Robert Geller

    This is really not what academic free speech was supposed to be about – what about the rights of the students who are attending Oberlin and their right to have an environment free of fear. So, if yelling fire in a crowded auditorium when there is no fire is not protected, why are the rants of a rhetoric professor who has no training in history or economics able to rant about how Jews control the world, etc? You rants are causing harm to those faculty and students who must listen to them.

    This would most definitely not be tolerated if she was ranting against Blacks, gays, transgender, Muslims, etc. This president is a coward and must go. The headlines of full of people who have lost their jobs for far less than this professor’s rants – is she being protected because of free speech or because she is black?

  • Lia

    As a once-upon-a-time academic, I am saddened by the seemingly accepted view that academics can say whatever they like, good manners, academic underpinning and truth despite.

  • Dr Martin Luther King Jr with great prescience in March 1968 described Ms Karenga-Mason when he said: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking antisemitism “.

  • Krislov is a much greater threat to the Jewish people than a silly fool like Karega could ever be.

  • Steve Fotos

    Free Speech is a private right. Your employer is not obligated to retain your services if it damages their image or business. This simple fact is much misunderstood. Oberlin is very slow to act, but perhaps the institution is finally realizing that having this professor on staff is a symbol of how very far the institution has strayed. She should be terminated from her position. Quickly.

  • a yid

    “Professor” Joy Karega must be immediately terminated. Please call Oberlin College President’s Office and tell them. You can also tell the alumni association. No student at any college should be directly or casually indoctrinated by such vile fallacies and hatred. This is not an opinion or free speech; it amounts to virtual incitement. I hope Oberlin will do the right thing and send a message that needs to be sent.
    Contact President of Oberlin: (440) 775-8937

    Contact Alumni: (440) 775-8692

    • a yid

      sorry, youtube video instead of Oberlin link.

  • Mordko Rainer

    In the name of the freedom of speech, the college must ensure that Nazis and KKK are also adequately represented among its staff. Otherwise students would be deprived of experiencing the full spectrum of hate and some of the conspiracy theories may not be fully covered within the curriculum.

  • Academic freedom is not a license to espouse views that have no basis in rational discourse, but are clearly biased and meant to inflict harm. Consider how Mr. Krislov would have acted had those posts been made by someone on Oberlin’s campus police force. That person would have bee fired as s/he would have been considered a danger to Jewish students, but what is more dangerous than a member of the faculty who displays an abhorent lack of commitment to academic standards, such that she can state fictions as if they were proven fact? Do we value protecting someone’s right to express his/her opinions over the educational mission of the institution? Would Krislov had said the same thing were a geometry professor to support the Catholic Church’s excommunication of Galileo on the grounds that the earth is flat? Krislov failed in his duty to the college and its students. His job tenure ought to be under review!

    • Lori Konolige

      Imagine if a student let alone a professor uttered a disparaging remark about African-Americans; a similar anti-black rant would have caused a riot. Consider the behavior of students at the University of Missouri who charged the administration with ” racial insensitivity.” They were able to force the school’s president and another official to resign. This is vicious anti-semitism from a representative of the college in an influential teaching position.
      The free expression defense doesn’t cut it. Imagine if the remarks were about black or gay people. There would be hell to pay. Anti-Jewish hostility camoflauged as anti-Israel opinion is thriving across campuses because it has been met with utter passivity. Why should free speech demagoguery be acceptable only when Jews are the target? Clearly it’s high time for college officials to to push back and stop hiring and harboring anti-semites on their staff. Jews are minorities too.

  • While I disagree with many of the passing comments made by the preceding poster, I am outraged and disappointed that this matter was not addressed in any attentive, serious fashion until the quarterly meeting of the Board. The President of Oberlin has thoroughly ignored his responsibilities to protect students from classroom and campus intimidation through malign speech that neither claims nor aspires to normative academic standards of adducing evidence for claims. Without this standard, academic freedom of speech can become a byword for the most egregious forms of irresponsible and harmful communication.

    • Seymour Kushner

      If a Jewish professor there said more than 50% of all violent crimes are done by black people & other Hispanics you could be sure he would have been fired by now.Transfer your kids out of Oberlin & take your tuition dollars elswhere.

  • Ayatollah Ghilmeini

    She has an absolute right to speak her mind. You never want to live in a world in which free inquiry does not exist.

    However, if you want to be an academic, if you cannot prove your thesis, you have to correct your errors or resign.

    This professor has prove if zionists control things, why are Trump and hillary leading in a presidential race in which most Jews shun their candidacies? Obama has been the worst president for Israel in living memory, how was he in on the “big plan? ”

    For bonus points with Jews fleeing Europe, European governments’ growing hostility to Israel, how does that fit this narrative? It doesn’t. Instead, it does fit with a different narrative, the far left and Islamist water against Israel and Jews is rising and target number one and mission number one is to destroy our children in academia with an unprecedented campaign to undermine Jewish identity and support for Israel. This is just a taste, worse still is on the way, the genie is out of the bottle and the tide is rising.