The Oberlin College board of trustees voted to dismiss professor Joy D. Karega, effective Nov. 15.her dismissal is not only because of her antisemitic posts on Facebook, but from her activities since they were revealed.
After extensive consideration and a comprehensive review of recommendations from multiple faculty committees and Oberlin President Marvin Krislov, the college voted to let go the assistant professor of rhetoric and composition for failing to meet the academic standards that Oberlin requires of its faculty and failing to demonstrate intellectual honesty, according to a news release from the college.
The release said: “As a board, we agree with President Krislov and every faculty committee reviewing this matter that the central issues are Dr. Karega’s professional integrity and fitness. We affirm Oberlin’s historic and ongoing commitment to academic freedom.
“During this process, which began with Dr. Karega’s posting of anti-Semitic writings on social media, Dr. Karega received numerous procedural protections: she was represented by counsel; she presented witness testimony, documents, and statements to support her position; and she had the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses testifying against her.
“The faculty review process examined whether Dr. Karega had violated the fundamental responsibilities of Oberlin faculty members – namely, adherence to the “Statement of Professional Ethics” of the American Association of University Professors, which requires faculty members to “accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge” and to “practice intellectual honesty."
“Contrary to this obligation, Karega attacked her colleagues when they challenged inconsistencies in her description of the connection between her postings and her scholarship and she disclaimed all responsibility for her misconduct, according to the release.
She also continues to blame Oberlin and its faculty committees for undertaking a shared governance review process, the release said.
“For these reasons, the faculty review committees and President Krislov agreed on the seriousness of Dr. Karega’s misconduct. Indeed, the majority of the General Faculty Council, the executive body of Oberlin’s faculty, concluded that Dr. Karega’s postings could not be justified as part of her scholarship and had “irreparably impaired (her) ability to perform her duties as a scholar, a teacher, and a member of the community.
“In the face of Dr. Karega’s repeated refusal to acknowledge and remedy her misconduct, her continued presence undermines the mission and values of Oberlin’s academic community. Thus, any sanction short of dismissal is insufficient and the Board of Trustees is compelled to take this most serious action,” according to the statement.
Karega is threatening a lawsuit:
I know the news is coming in. Trust me, this is not a surprise. I've been dealing with the persecution, incompetent leadership, and discrimination from Oberlin College since March. No surprise here.She also claims in her post that she was targeted because she is black. ("To my faculty colleagues who had a hand in this decision and to my faculty colleagues who have sat back and done NOTHING: When this precedent that is being set extends beyond mere harm to faculty of color, you will have NO right to complain or say anything.")
I will be issuing an official statement soon. I could easily release a "Kiss My Ass" statement. I would be MORE than justified in doing so. But that is not my style. I choose my weapons CAREFULLY and STRATEGICALLY. And trust, I have done that. There will be a challenge and defense of my rights, using ALL the avenues I have available to me -- litigation, public, etc. The pathway for that has already been laid.
...For my Africana faculty, I'm sorry that it had to come to this. I'm sorry that now you all will be placed at the center of the litigation that is coming. I never wanted that. But the College has left me no choice.
The news articles that have been about her, by their nature, minimize her antisemitism and her willingness to embrace absurd anti-Israel conspiracy theories - in other words, her complete inability to distinguish truth from fiction and her willingness to espouse hate.
Thanks to David Gerstman at The Tower, who broke the story about this professor, we have screenshots of what she has actually said in context:
There have been academics that defend her right to publish hate on Facebook. The argument mostly goes like this:
Stanley Fish, the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and Law at Florida International University and author of Versions of Academic Freedom: From Professionalism to Revolution, said Karega can say whatever she wants on social media or even in her scholarship, even if it’s patently false and relates directly to her subject area—as long as she doesn’t attempt to present it in class as a fundamental truth (and there’s a sound pedagogical reason for presenting it at all)
This is probably why Oberlin is couching her dismissal not in terms of her posts, but in terms of her antagonism towards her employer in the wake of their asking questions about her posts. It was her refusal to “accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge” and to “practice intellectual honesty."
These academic standards quoted by the AAUP and professors who comment on the case are written by people who have an interest in protecting their own jobs. It seems to me that the bar for teachers, and journalists, must be higher, because their entire jobs are dedicated to conveying truthful information. If a professor or journalist cannot distinguish between truth or fiction - even on Facebook posts that have little to do with their professional work - then one must be concerned about their ability to perform their jobs professionally, too. If they prove that they are bigots on Facebook, then they disqualify themselves from pretending to be honorable members of their profession in the office or classroom.
Free speech is important, but for professions that depend on truth and a modicum of fairness, free speech isn't a defense against lies and hate. These opinions aren't merely "controversial." They are wrong and disgusting, and that should disqualify people from jobs that rely on the ability of the professional to know the difference between truth and fiction and between reasoned opinion and hate disguised as truth.