Princeton Fires Tenured Professor in Campus Controversy

A Princeton classics professor was fired, “effective immediately,” on Monday after the college’s administration discovered that he had not been absolutely sincere and cooperative with an investigation into his sexual relationship with an undergraduate scholar about 15 years in the past.

The dismissal of the professor, Joshua Katz, was a uncommon case of a tenured professor being dismissed, and got here after a fierce debate on campus and in wider political spheres over whether or not he was focused for his politics. In 2020, he wrote an article in Quillette, a web based journal, which criticized anti-racist proposals by Princeton college, college students and employees.

The college’s assertion on the firing didn’t even allude to the free speech situation. The causes the college gave for dismissal have been based mostly on a “detailed written complaint from an alumna who had a consensual relationship with Dr. Katz while she was an undergraduate under his academic supervision.” That relationship was in 2006 and 2007, however the alumna didn’t file her grievance till 2021.

Dr. Katz declined to remark instantly. But his lawyer, Samantha Harris, mentioned Dr. Katz was not shocked by his firing.

She mentioned the college’s assertion that Dr. Katz had tried to impede the investigation into his sexual relationship with the coed was a “mischaracterization.”

And she mentioned, “The university’s decision will have a powerful chilling effect on free speech, because anyone who might wish to express a controversial opinion knows that they must first ask themselves if their personal life can stand up to the kind of relentless scrutiny that Dr. Katz’s life was subjected to beginning just days after the publication of his Quillette article.”

Princeton’s president, Christopher Eisgruber, addressed the controversy over Dr. Katz throughout remarks Saturday to alumni who had returned to campus for reunions.

He defended his report on free speech, and mentioned the college needed to act when college violated conduct guidelines.

“We take those rules very seriously here and we believe that a faculty member is bound by those obligations, regardless of how distinguished they may be, and regardless of what their political views may be,” he mentioned. “Political views aren’t a reason to investigate anybody. They’re also not a defense for investigating anybody.”

The college’s assertion mentioned a 2021 investigation had “established multiple instances in which Dr. Katz misrepresented facts or failed to be straightforward” throughout an earlier 2018 Princeton investigation into the connection with the undergraduate.

One such occasion, the assertion mentioned, was “a successful effort to discourage the alumna from participating and cooperating after she expressed the intent to do so.” The investigation additionally discovered that “Dr. Katz exposed the alumna to harm while she was an undergraduate by discouraging her from seeking mental health care although he knew her to be in distress, all in an effort to conceal a relationship he knew was prohibited by university rules,” in line with the assertion.

These actions, the assertion mentioned, have been “not only egregious violations of university policy, but also entirely inconsistent with his obligations as a member of the faculty.”

Ms. Harris mentioned that investigators had taken issues mentioned between Dr. Katz and his former scholar throughout bursts of anger and frustration at a nerve-racking time, and turned them into way more damning statements, which have been belied by context he offered in contemporaneous emails.

Dr. Katz and his allies identified that he had already been punished as soon as — by being suspended — for the connection, and contended that it was being resurrected as a pretext to retaliate in opposition to him for the Quillette article. The article criticized anti-racist proposals in a July 2020 letter signed by greater than 300 Princeton college, college students and employees.

In essentially the most broadly quoted and reviled component of his article, he known as a scholar group, the Black Justice League, a “small local terrorist organization” that had made the lives of many college students, together with Black college students, depressing.

The firing was anticipated after Princeton’s president, Mr. Eisgruber, really useful his termination in a May 10 letter to the chair of the board of trustees.

The dismissal didn’t go easily. When informed that Princeton had introduced his firing, Dr. Katz’s spouse, Solveig Gold mentioned, “That’s news to me. We have nothing.” She added, “It’s pretty damning that we don’t have it ourselves.”

She later mentioned that Dr. Katz had found that the college’s discover that he was being fired had been despatched to the improper e mail.

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