Rutgers University: Tenured professor found guilty of violating discrimination and harassment policy for Facebook posts about gentrification

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: Rutgers University – New Brunswick

On May 31, 2018, tenured Rutgers University history professor James Livingston published a post about gentrification on his personal Facebook account following his visit to a Harlem restaurant. He wrote, “OK, officially, I now hate white people. I am a white people, for God’s sake, but can we keep them–us–us out of my neighborhood?” He went on to write that the restaurant was “overrun with little Caucasian assholes” and said, “I hereby resign from my race.” The next day, Livingston was informed by Facebook that his post violated Facebook’s Community Standards, which prompted Livingston to publish a follow up post stating, “I just don’t want little Caucasians overrunning my life … remand them to the suburbs, where they and their parents can colonize every restaurant.” The Daily Caller reported on Livingston’s Facebook posts, and news coverage followed in local and national outlets.

After receiving complaints about Livingston’s posts, Rutgers’ Office of Employment Equity launched an investigation of the professor. Despite recognizing that Livingston’s speech was commentary by a private citizen addressing a matter of public concern, the investigator erroneously concluded that Livingston’s posts were not protected by the First Amendment and violated Rutgers’ Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment. Livingston’s appeal of the determination was denied. On Aug. 20, 2018, FIRE wrote to Rutgers to remind the public institution of its obligation to honor and protect its faculty members’ First Amendment rights.

  • Rutgers President Wants to Investigate Professor James Livingston’s Anti-White Comments

    September 7, 2018

    by Tim Cicciotta at Breitbart The president of Rutgers University said this week that he wants to take a second look at professor James Livingston, who wrote “I hate white people” on Facebook. “OK, officially, I now hate white people,” James Livingston wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post. “I am a white people [sic], for God’s sake, but can we keep them — us — us out of my neighborhood? I just went to Harlem Shake on 124 and Lenox for a Classic burger to go, that would [be] my dinner, and the place is overrun with little Caucasian a**holes who know their […]

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  • Rutgers Revisits Finding on Professor

    September 4, 2018

    by Emma Whitford at Inside Higher Ed Rutgers University is walking back its finding that James Livingston, a professor who posted antiwhite comments about gentrification in his neighborhood on Facebook last spring, violated Rutgers’s discrimination and harassment policy. In a letter to Peter March, executive dean at Rutgers’s School of Arts and Sciences, Robert Barchi, university president, said that the report “was released to [March] and Professor Livingston before I had been made aware of its content” and that he planned to take action to review the findings of the report… Read more here.

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  • After a professor’s rant about white people, Rutgers president affirms free speech

    August 30, 2018

    by Susan Svrluga at SFGate Rutgers University president Robert Barchi is ordering another review of a professor’s inflammatory social media posts, calling for a more rigorous assessment of free speech implications… Read more here.

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  • ‘I hereby resign from my race. F— these people,’ white professor writes online, sparking furor

    August 23, 2018

    by Amy Lieu at Fox News A white professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey violated the school’s policy when he complained about other white people in a post on Facebook, according to reports. The university says it prohibits discrimination and harassment, and judged that history professor James Livingston, who is white, crossed a line with his comments… Read more here.

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  • After a professor wrote about hating white people, Rutgers considers the limits of free speech

    August 22, 2018

    by Susan Svrluga at The Washington Post A history professor was found guilty of discrimination and harassment after writing on Facebook that he hated white people, leading an advocacy group to complain that Rutgers University had violated his right to free speech… Read more here.

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  • VICTORY: Rutgers reverses finding against professor who posted about resigning from the white race on Facebook

    November 15, 2018

    NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Nov. 15, 2018 — Rutgers University has officially reversed its decision to find a tenured history professor guilty of violating university policy because he wrote two Facebook posts critical of white gentrification in Harlem. The reversal is a vindication for the right of professors to speak as private citizens on issues of public concern. The university informed professor James Livingston of the reversal on Wednesday, after Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi ordered the reevaluation of the initial ruling. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education represented Livingston in the matter. “FIRE is pleased that Rutgers did the […]

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  • Rutgers president orders review of ruling against professor for Facebook posts about white gentrification in Harlem

    August 31, 2018

    In a letter sent Wednesday evening, Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi informed senior administrators that he has ordered the reevaluation of an earlier ruling finding Professor James Livingston guilty of violating university policy for two Facebook posts critical of white gentrification in Harlem. The tenured professor of history at Rutgers-New Brunswick came under investigation earlier this summer by the university’s Office of Employment Equity after several of Livingston’s Facebook posts grabbed the attention of the media. On May 31, while at a restaurant in his Harlem neighborhood, Livingston posted on his personal account, “OK, officially, I now hate white people. […]

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  • Rutgers caves to outrage mob: Professor faces punishment for Facebook posts about white people, Harlem gentrification

    August 21, 2018

    University calls professor’s sarcastic post a ‘belligerent barb against whites’ NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Aug. 21, 2018 — It appears Rutgers University’s commitment to faculty First Amendment rights is no match for an online outrage mob. Tenured professor of history James Livingston was found guilty of violating Rutgers’ Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment late last month for two sarcastic Facebook posts he wrote about gentrification in Harlem, the New York City neighborhood where he lives. The posts sparked outrage on social media and led to threats against Livingston, who is white. After Rutgers rejected Livingston’s appeal of the finding against him, […]

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