Fresno State University: Professor Randa Jarrar’s Tweets Following Death of Barbara Bush Lead to Investigation

Category: Free Speech

Following former First Lady Barbara Bush’s death on April 17, 2018, Fresno State University professor Randa Jarrar used her personal Twitter account to criticize the Bush family and the Iraq War, and to rejoice in Bush’s passing. After Jarrar’s comments and subsequent sparring with critics on Twitter went viral, Fresno State administrators called a press conference and announced that the university was initiating a “long” investigation, while the president condemned the remarks as “beyond free speech” and “disrespectful.” After a coalition of civil liberties organizations led by FIRE wrote to Fresno State to remind the university that Jarrar’s expression is protected by the First Amendment, the university abandoned its investigation.

There is currently no media coverage for this case.
  • VICTORY: Fresno State drops investigation into professor’s fiery tweets about former First Lady Barbara Bush

    April 25, 2018

    FRESNO, Calif., April 25, 2018 — California State University, Fresno President Joseph Castro announced late Tuesday that the university will drop its investigation of professor Randa Jarrar for her Twitter comments about the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and a coalition of civil liberties organizations had warned the school that investigating the professor would be an attack on her free speech and academic freedom rights. “Americans may face a variety of social consequences for making political statements that others find offensive or upsetting,” said Ari Cohn, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense […]

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  • Coalition of civil liberties organizations to Fresno State: First Amendment doesn’t have a ‘disrespectful’ exception

    April 19, 2018

    Yesterday, officials at Fresno State University convened a press conference to announce the initiation of what they promised would be a “long” investigation into the tweets of Professor Randa Jarrar following the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush. Meanwhile, Fresno State president Joseph Castro took to local television to condemn the tweets as “not just a free speech issue,” but one of “common decency and respect,” which he views as “what a university is about.” When asked whether termination of the tenured professor was an option, Castro responded that “all options are on the table,” a threat he also […]

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  • Fresno State University won’t — and cannot — punish professor for Barbara Bush tweets

    April 18, 2018

    Barbara Bush, former First Lady and matriarch of the Bush family, passed away yesterday at her Houston home at the age of 92, leading to statements of condolences from across the world. Following the announcement of Bush’s passing, a Fresno State University professor, Randa Jarrar, caused controversy on Twitter, leading the university to issue a statement distancing itself from Jarrar’s tweets amid calls for her termination. As the Fresno Bee reports: Randa Jarrar, a professor in Fresno State’s Department of English, expressed her displeasure with the Bush family within an hour after the official announcement that Mrs. Bush died Tuesday […]

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