Trustees at Oberlin College start to hold to account – Professor accused of anti-Semitism

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

These postings are anti-Semitic and abhorrent. We deplore anti-Semitism 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.”

This is the strongly worded communique that  Clyde McGregor, Chair of Oberlin College’s Board of Trustees, issued with regard to the social media postings of Assistant Professor Joy Karega.

One of Karega's posts
One of Karega’s posts



Karega’s postings unleashed a firestorm of public condemnation, including calls for the non-tentured professor’s dismissal. However, the college’s president, Marvin Krislov, while conceding the professor’s opinions constituted “conspiracy theories” that “caused pain,” and drew a comparison to Holocaust denial, Krislov fell short of issuing a direct condemnation, and also took note of the principle of academic freedom.


On Friday, one of Karega’s colleagues, Abraham Socher, Associate Professor of Religion and Director of Jewish Studies, also called her postings anti-semitic in an essay published at the Oberlin Review:

“To be clear, I do not contest Professor Karega-Mason’s right to say whatever she wants on Facebook or anywhere else, her own skepticism about freedom of speech notwithstanding. But anyone who is tempted to think that what she has said was not anti-Semitic or can be creatively contextualized away ought to think about what would constitute anti-Semitic speech, and whether they would apply such alibis or restrictive, ahistorical definitions to any other form of hate speech.”

“In my 16 years at Oberlin College, I have never publicly criticized a colleague. But it seems to me that to look quickly away from Professor Karega-Mason’s posts without explaining exactly what is wrong with them would be to confirm that Oberlin College is indifferent to — or at least very squeamish about — anti-Semitism. I would prefer to think otherwise.”

On Saturday, Karega posted on her Facebook page that on advice of legal counsel she would no longer post on her “situation at Oberlin.” However, she did add, “I remain firm in my convictions and resolve.”

Read more here.

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