Fresno State has decided not to punish a Muslim professor who cheered the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush.
In a letter to the campus community, school president Joseph Castro explained that—despite horrific comments from Associate Professor Randa Jarrar slamming the former First Lady, and Jarrar’s posting of a mental health hotline phone number in order to lure critics into “calling” her—the school would not take action.
“Professor Jarrar’s conduct was insensitive, inappropriate and an embarrassment to the university,” Castro wrote. “I know her comments have angered many in our community and impacted our students. Let me be clear, on campus and whenever we are representing the university, I expect all of us to engage in respectful dialogue.”
“Immediately following Professor Jarrar’s tweets last Tuesday, we carefully reviewed the facts and consulted with CSU counsel to determine whether we could take disciplinary action,” he added. “After completing this process, we have concluded that Professor Jarrar did not violate any CSU or university policies and that she was acting in a private capacity and speaking about a public matter on her personal Twitter account. Her comments, although disgraceful, are protected free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
He also added, however, that Jarrar will not return to teaching until the fall semester.
“Our duty as Americans and as educators is to promote a free exchange of diverse views, even if we disagree with them,” Castro concluded. “At Fresno State, we encourage opinions and ideas to be expressed in a manner that informs, enlightens and educates without being disparaging of others. It makes me proud when I see our students, faculty and staff debate and learn from each other. This is how we boldly educate and empower our students to succeed.”