A lecturer has been suspended from Stanford University for reportedly making offensive statements to Jewish students in class following the start of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
Stanford said in a statement that the instructor is not currently teaching any classes at the university.
"We have received a report of a class in which a non-faculty instructor is reported to have addressed the Middle East conflict in a manner that called out individual students in class based on their backgrounds and identities," the university said. "Without prejudging the matter, this report is a cause for serious concern. Academic freedom does not permit the identity-based targeting of students. The instructor in this course is not currently teaching while the university works to ascertain the facts of the situation."
The San Francisco Chroniclereported that the students were enrolled in College 101, a required course for first-year students. A description of the course says, "We will explore the history, practice, and rationales for a liberal education by putting canonical texts in conversation with more recent works. We will consider the relevance of liberal education to all areas of study, from STEM to the arts, and its relations to future careers."
However, leaders of Stanford’s Israeli Student Association said the discussion went far beyond what is on the syllabus. The Chronicle reported that students claimed the professor called Jews in class "colonizers" while minimizing the Holocaust. Senior Nourya Cohen told the Chronicle she talked to students who were in the class.
“He asked how many Jews died in the Holocaust,” and when students said 6 million, “he said, ‘Yes. Only 6 million,’” she told the paper.
Stanford officials said these concerns raised by students enrolled in the College 101 course were among many raised.
"We have heard from Jewish students, faculty, and staff concerned about rising anti-Semitism," Stanford said. "We have heard from Palestinian students who have received threatening emails and phone calls. We want to make clear that Stanford stands unequivocally against hatred on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, and other categories.
"The expression of political views, in appropriate times and places, is important. Thoughtful, reasoned discussion of current issues is central to the life of the university. Our commitment to academic freedom means that latitude for expression of controversial and even offensive views is necessary to avoid chilling freedom of thought and ideas. But harassment and abuse have no place here."
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