Rutgers University

Students calling for removal of food science professor behind anti-Semitic Facebook posts

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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Student activists are pushing for the suspension of a professor ​who has allegedly posted dozens of ​anti-Semitic posts on his Facebook profile.

The petition, started by Rutgers first-year-student Miriam Waghalter, asks that the university take “swift action” against Michael Chikindas, a microbiology professor at the food science department, for a myriad of racist and anti-Semitic posts.

Chikindas’ Facebook contained anti-Semitic characters, posts where he called “motherf***ing Jews,” the “most racist religion in the world,” and referring to Israel as a “terrorist country.” His Facebook has reportedly been deleted.

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The ​revelation comes days after recruitment flyers for the white supremacist group Identity Evropa, were posted across campus, along with a flyer on one of the Rutgers buses which read “Black lives don’t matter.”

“It’s disturbing,” Waghalter said. “Even though we’re young adults, we still look up to faculty in order to help continue to shape our opinions of the world, and for someone of that stature, to be preaching these views, is problematic in that sense.”

Waghalter identifies ​herself ​as an Orthodox Jew, and since starting at Rutgers just over two months ago, has become involved with Rutgers Hillel, one of the university’s two Jewish student centers​ prominent on College Avenue.​

“It’s still an amazing place for Jews, the most amazing place for Jews,” Waghalter said, adding that she’s been involved with Hillel prayer services and the Scarlet Knights for Israel student organization.

As of 5:01 p.m. on October 26, the petition garnered 783 signatures.

“Faculty are the heart and soul of the university,” reads the petition. “If they are not held accountable when they promote racism and prejudice, then hatred and division will grow, to the detriment of our students, our beloved university and our whole society.”

Chikindas’ posts were first brought to light by blogger Aussie Dave and his page, IsraellyCool, which featured dozens of screenshots from Chikindas’ page, depicting anti-Semitic rants, photos and interactions with other Facebook users.

One of the posts Chikindas shared on May 25, from the page “End AIPAC,” depicts an “Anti-Semitism Card,” which reads “Get Out of Jail Free,” and shows the Monopoly game’s mascot flying out of a bird cage.

“When your Zionist Agenda gets busted, play the Anti-Semitism Card,” the post reads. “Claim everything. Admit nothing.”

Another post on Chikindas’ page read, ““They can go f*** each other in their fat arses — you see, I do not have anything to loose, hence nothing to be controlled.”

In another post, Chikindas shows a woman carrying dozens of hundred dollar bills. Below the photo, Chikindas wrote in a comment that “One may only wonder: why on earth the simple Jewish female is carrying the $10K in her bag… Doesn’t it make you suspicious?”

Posts featured caricatures of Jews, depicting a Jewish man with a large nose, a yellow Star of David and malicious grin.

In an email to NJ Advance Media, Chikindas alleged that his Facebook account was hacked.

"As a result of my account being hacked, I cannot say with confidence that everything on my page was shared by me: There is a good chance for some things being placed on my page by those who hacked my account," Chikindas wrote in an email to NJ Advance Media. 

But Chikindas didn't deny sharing material on his Facebook that was considered anti-Semitic. 

Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Deb Dutta said that the university was certainly considering suspending Chikindas, and that they plan to be further investigating the violations​, as students across the campus express revulsion.​

“Rutgers’ position on free speech is clear: All of the members of our community, including faculty and staff, are free to express their viewpoints in public forums as private citizens,” wrote university spokesperson Neal Buccino. "Yet at Rutgers University we must also foster an environment free from discrimination, as articulated in our policy prohibiting discrimination.”

Buccino also confirmed that the university will be investigating Chikindas posts and determine the best course of action.

Other students​ expressed disbelief and shock​ as well, such as Rutgers sophomore Elisheva Strauss, who’s studying cell biology and neuroscience and also identifies as Jewish.

“Honestly, it’s something that scares me,” Strauss said. “It’s being in that class or being in that department, that’s something that I’m nervous about.”

Yet Strauss remained confident the university would stand up for her, and any ​other Rutgers ​student, who was being penalized by a professor or other university employee for their religious beliefs.

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