Indiana University will not remove a professor whose “racist, sexist and homophobic” social media posts recently went viral, as the school says that doing so would violate his First Amendment rights.
Professor Eric Rasmusen, who teaches at the Kelley School of Business, went viral earlier this month after sharing an article on Twitter titled, “Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably.” on Nov. 7.
In addition to sharing the article, he quoted a line that read, “Geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness and moderately low Conscientiousness.”
After the tweet took off, other posts were uncovered in which Rasmusen discussed his belief that women do not belong in the workplace, particularly in academia, that gay men are “promiscuous” and prone to abusing students and should therefore not be allowed in academia either, and that black students are inferior to white students.
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Even so, Executive Vice President and Provost Lauren Robel issued a statement to the school community on Wednesday saying that while Rasmusen’s views were “stunningly ignorant” and “more consistent with someone who lived in the 18th century than the 21st,” he would keep his position at the school.
“We cannot, nor would we, fire Professor Rasmusen for his posts as a private citizen, as vile and stupid as they are, because the First Amendment of the United States Constitution forbids us to do so,” she wrote. “That is not a close call.”
In order to make students more comfortable, Robel wrote that alternatives to his classes would be provided for those who did not want him as a professor, and that his classes would use “double-blind grading” so that students would not be identified while he graded, and therefore would not be subject to any prejudices.
“My strong disagreement with his views — indeed, the fact that I find them loathsome — is not a reason for Indiana University to violate the Constitution of the United States,” Robel wrote. “This is a lesson, unfortunately, that all of us need to take seriously, even as we support our colleagues and classmates in their perfectly reasonable anger and disgust that someone who is a professor at an elite institution would hold, and publicly proclaim, views that our country, and our university, have long rejected as wrong and immoral.”
Meanwhile, Kelley School Dean Idie Kesner also condemned Rasmusen’s posts, writing in a statement that he “demonstrates a lack of tolerance and respect for women as well as for racial diversity and diversity in sexual orientation.”
Still, like Robel, Kesner wrote that it was in keeping with Rasmusen’s First Amendment rights to share his opinions, despite the fact that they were “at odds” with the school’s values.
Rasmusen responded to the controversy with an apparent statement on his website Friday that referred to the uproar as a “kerfuffle in which the Woke crowd discovered my Twitter tweets, retweets, and suchlike and got very excited, and my Dean and Provost immediately overreacted.”
In an additional statement on his site, Rasmusen accused the school of “encouraging” bias among students against professors who do not share their views.
“There are views you’re not supposed to express, even outside of class, and God help the conservative student whose professor checks Facebook and Twitter before grading term papers,” he wrote.
Rasmusen is a professor of Business Economics & Public Policy and adjunct professor of Economics, and has worked at the university since 1992.
The Indiana Daily Student reported that two bridges at the school had been painted in protest of Rasmusen, with one reading “Fire Eric Rasmusen” and “No Bigots Allowed.”