BLOOMINGTON — Indiana University Provost Lauren Robel said social media comments by a Bloomington professor are "racist, sexist and homophobic," but the school will not fire Eric Rasmusen.
Robel said IU cannot fire Rasmusen, a professor of business economics and public policy in the Kelley School of Business, because the U.S. Constitution protects his views.
Rasmussen's beliefs have been in the spotlight since a Twitter account with more than 422,000 followers shared one of his tweets that featured an article titled, "Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably" pulling a quote from it that said "geniuses are overwhelmingly male."
Robel says Rasmusen also posted "bigoted statements," saying gay men are "promiscuous" and shouldn't be in academia, and that black students are unqualified to attend elite institutions.
"His expressed views are stunningly ignorant, more consistent with someone who lived in the 18th century than the 21st," Robel said.
A 2003 article from the Chicago Tribune, which highlights Rasmussen's belief that he doesn't think gay men should be teachers for fear they will have sex with students shows Rasmusen has posted controversial statements online for years. More of Rasmusen's social media activity has been uncovered and reaction has been swift with many calling for the school to fire the professor.
"We cannot, nor would we, fire Professor Rasmusen for his posts as a private citizens, as vile and stupid as they are, because the First Amendment of the United States Constitution forbids us to do so," she said.
Rasmussen said he thinks Robel overreacted to his social media comments.
"The provost issued a statement that was ill-advised because it misrepresents my views and it was so strongly worded that it I think it caught everybody's eye where the tweets would not have," Rasmussen said.
Robel, however, said if Rasmussen acts upon his views in the workplace he could be in violation of the university's nondiscrimination policy.
The school is allowing students to transfer out of his classes and implementing anonymous assignment submission for his courses.
"If other steps are needed to protect our students or colleagues from bigoted actions, Indiana University will take them," Robel said. "My main goal here is to have the students understand that they'll be judged on their merits and not on their sex, their race or their sexual orientation."
Rasmusen said the university is encouraging bias by cracking down on his views. In a statement on his website, Rasmusen referred to himself as a "dissident professor."
To show students that they need not fear bias in grading, Indiana University’s Provost, Lauren Robel, and the Kelley School of Business’s Dean, Idalene Kesner, are condemning me, a dissident professor. Besides being condemned publicly, I am being required to use blind grading and students are allowed to opt out of my class. This, it is claimed, will make students relaxed and feel able to express their political views without fear of retribution. Having seen the Provost and Dean down on a professor who does not share their views, students will feel more comfortable in expressing their own views--- that is, they will know what to expect if they speak freely in the classes of the 99% of professors who are (a) leftwing, and (b) exempt from blind grading. Indiana University is not discouraging bias, but encouraging it, even requiring it, as a condition of teaching. There are views you're not supposed to express, even outside of class, and God help the conservative student whose professor checks Facebook and Twitter before grading term papers. In the pastI’ve had Christian and conservative students shyly approach me to say how happy they were to finally find a professor who was open in his beliefs. I hope to encourage them as much as I can.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.