December 10, 2017

Punishment underway for Rutgers professor accused of anti-Semitic Facebook posts

Racism Rutgers
04072015_Rutgers_AP Mel Evans/AP

Rutgers University housing

Rutgers professor Michael Chikindas, who faced allegations of anti-Semitic posts on his Facebook page earlier this year, will be stripped of several of his responsibilities, and possibly wages, at the university.

NJ.com reported Chikindas will lose his post as director of the Center for Digestive Health at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, and will no longer teach required courses in the food science department, where he began working in 1998 and received tenure in 2007.

Additionally, Rutgers is looking into further punishment through Appendix H of the collective bargaining agreement with the faculty union. Chikindas is also required to take cultural sensitivity training.

"The faculty contract requires that a specific process be followed in making a determination if a suspension of a faculty member is unpaid or at reduced pay," said Dory Devlin, a spokeswoman for the university, to NJ.com.

"That process is being followed as the faculty contract requires."

When the allegations were first reported in October, Chikindas claimed his Facebook account had been hacked and he couldn’t be sure that those posts were shared by him. However, he was unable to deny the sharing of some anti-Semitic images and other comments.

Among Chikindas’ offensive posts were suggestions that Jews orchestrated the Armenian genocide, conspiracy theories about 9/11 being planned by American and Israeli Jews, and referred to both American and Israeli women, including First Lady Melania Trump, as “sluts” and “bitches.”

In October, Chikindas wrote an email to NJ Advance Media claiming he did not identify as racist or anti-Semitic.

“The pictures I shared from other Facebook pages were not removed by the Facebook mediators which made me think they are not violating any rules while raising a question of possible racist nature of Zionism.”

Though the offensive posts have now been deleted, they live on some pages, including this post from Israellycool.com in which Chikindas is named “Anti-Zionist-Not-Antisemite Of The Day.”

"Professor Michael Chikindas' comments and posts on social media are antithetical to our university's principles and values of respect for people of all backgrounds, including, among other groups, our large and vibrant Jewish community,” Rutgers said in a statement when the allegations became public.

“Such comments do not represent the position of the university."