A New York University professor who tweeted against political correctness and “safe space” campus culture has been placed on paid leave for the rest of the semester.
“They are actually pushing me out the door for having a different perspective,” Michael Rectenwald, a clinical assistant professor of liberal studies, told the New York Post.
Mr. Rectenwald said he created the undercover Twitter account, “Deplorable NYU Prof,” in September so he could blast political correctness and trigger warnings without fear of reprisal from “social justice warriors.”
He finally revealed himself as the man behind the Twitter account in an interview this month with Washington Square News, NYU’s daily student newspaper.
“My contention is that the trigger warning, safe spaces and bias hotline reporting is not politically correct,” he said. “It is insane. This stuff is producing a culture of hypervigilance, self-surveillance and panopticism.”
After Mr. Rectenwald’s interview, a 12-person committee of NYU faculty members and students published a scathing letter accusing the professor of being “guilty of illogic and incivility.”
“They took my views personally,” Mr. Rectenwald told the Post. “I never even mentioned them and I never even said NYU liberal studies program. I was talking about academia at large.”
Mr. Rectenwald described what followed as a “Salem witch trial.” He said he was summoned to a meeting with his department dean and an HR representative and he was placed on paid leave the same day.
“They claimed they were worried about me and a couple people had expressed concern about my mental health,” he said. “It’s an alarming curtailment of free expression to the point where you can’t even pretend to be something without authorities coming down on you in the universities.”
NYU spokesman Matt Nagel told the Post that Mr. Rectenwald’s leave has “absolutely zero to do with his Twitter account or his opinions on issues of the day.” He did not elaborate on the real reason for the professor’s leave, the Post reported.