Oregon University Fires Jewish Shakespeare Scholar Who Highlighted Alleged Antisemitism, Sexual Abuse by Senior Management
A Jewish professor at a private university in Oregon was fired from his position on Tuesday, weeks after highlighting alleged sexual abuse of students by board trustees, along with detailing on social media the antisemitic harassment he experienced at the hands of senior college leaders.
Daniel Pollack-Pelzner — a professor of Shakespeare Studies at Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon — was terminated “with cause,” according to a university statement on Tuesday afternoon. The same statement denounced Pollack-Pelzner as “insubordinate” and accused him of having “interfered with the university’s administration of its responsibilities.”
In late March, Pollack-Pelzner, the faculty trustee on the university’s board, reported that four of the other trustees on the board had been accused of sexual harassment by students and faculty.
“That’s more than 10 percent of the Board. Three of those trustees are still on the Board,” Pollack-Plezner wrote on his Twitter feed at the time. He pointed out that similar sexual abuse charges had been made against one of the accused trustees by three students in the recent past.
However, the university responded by accusing the professor of lying, insisting that he had “deliberately circulated false statements about the university, its employees and its board.”
Central to Pollack-Plezner’s concerns about the university were the antisemitic remarks allegedly made to him by Linfield’s president, Miles K. Davis. In their interactions, Davis was said to have made comments about measuring the size of Jewish people’s noses, claimed that “some people” were overly sensitive to the appearance of swastikas on campus, and accused Pollack-Plezner of harboring a “secret agenda” to grab power.
“Finally, the President said that people like me were destroying Linfield University from within and could only show loyalty by accepting the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament,” Pollack disclosed on Twitter on March 29. “That’s when I went to Human Resources.”
In another post, he recalled that the “the moment I knew that nothing would come of my claims that the Linfield University President and Board Chair had religiously harassed me was when I went to the head of HR, and she said: ‘Personally, I don’t believe the Jews have a secret agenda to grab power at all!'”
Pollack-Pelzner’s allegations led the Oregon Board of Rabbis last week to call for the resignation of Davis and board chair David Baca for their “mishandling of serious allegations of sexual harassment” and a “stream of comments insinuating religious bias.” The Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Northwest regional director urged the school to investigate Pollack-Pelzner’s allegations as well.
Pollack-Pelzner, who has made no public statement since his firing, is reported to be consulting a lawyer. However, he has continued to make his presence felt on social media, retweeting messages of support from friends and colleagues around the world.