Rutgers Reverses Finding on Professor's Remark on White People

November 16, 2018

Rutgers University has reversed course regarding a white professor who said he was resigning from his race after visiting a burger joint filled with “little Caucasian assholes” -- presumably children -- in rapidly gentrifying Harlem. The comments, made on Facebook in late spring, attracted widespread attention. Rutgers launched an investigation and determined that the professor, James Livingston, a historian, violated its discrimination and harassment policy. He faced disciplinary action.

But this week, Rutgers’s Office of Employment Equity informed Livingston in a memo that he had not violated the policy. The memo says Robert Barchi, university president, remanded the office’s initial finding back for re-evaluation. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which argued to Rutgers that Livingston’s speech was protected, said in a statement that the university “did the right thing and reversed the charge of racial discrimination.” Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon, FIRE’s director of litigation, said, “Any other result would have undermined the free speech and academic freedom rights of all Rutgers faculty members.”

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