UW professor faces controversy over years-old Facebook post | New
A petition calling for the termination of an assistant professor of languages and civilization of the Near East (NELC) had collected nearly 900 signatures on Monday.
The petition was created by an Arab student, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety, who stumbled across public profiles of Dr Hadar Khazzam-Horovitz earlier this year.
Wanting to learn more about the cultures and history of the Middle East, the student found a class taught by Khazzam-Horovitz. They planned to take it because she had good grades and then they found her public Facebook account.
The student scrolled through the Khazzam-Horovitz public account and found a post from 2012.
The message contained two images. The photo on the left was titled “Brave Jewish Mom” and showed a Jewish mother protecting her child using her own body as a shield. To the right, a second photo titled “Brave Arab Mom” showed an Arab woman appearing to tie weapons to her child. With arms, the child wears a ski mask and a keffiyeh. The bottom of the photo reads: “Which side are YOU on?”
Finding the post offensive, the student decided to report it.
“It’s not a political vision, it’s not a different perspective,” the student said. “It’s you expressing your racism.”
The student had been worried since Khazzam-Horovitz taught and continues to teach a history class on the Middle East.
“You know how the culture and history classes work,” they said. “The instructor primarily shapes the program or his opinions dominate the material.”
Using the UW bias incident report tool, the student reported the post on April 9, with the advisory board saying Khazzam-Horovitz was unaware of her social media post. and told the student to contact Dr Selim Sirri Kuru, the chair of the NELC department.
A few days after their initial report to the Bias Incidents Advisory Committee, the student noticed that Khazzam-Horovitz had deleted all messages and changed her account].
A week after the original report, the student decided to get in touch with Dr Denise Dudzinski, professor and director of the department of bioethics and humanities. Soon after, the student received an email from Sirri Kuru and a letter of apology from Khazzam-Horovitz where she apologized for the message and said she did not remember having it. published.
“I wanted to write my sincere apologies for sharing this post on Facebook over eight years ago,” Khazzam-Horovitz wrote in the email to the student. “I do not remember posting this terrible message and seeing it now horrified me because it does not represent my values or my view of the world.”
The student did not accept Khazzam-Horovitz’s apologies, saying they were “not convinced of any change”.
They took screenshots of his account and the post to show how Khazzam-Horovitz changed the account after reporting the post, while the matter was still under investigation.
“She didn’t give an honest justification from the start,” the student said. “No, she’s trying to adjust her explanation.”
They met with Sirri Kuru to discuss this incident, expressing their demand to take action against Khazzam-Horovitz through suspension or dismissal.
Frustrated by the department’s handling of the situation, the student created a petition calling for Khazzam-Horovitz’s dismissal.
Khazzam-Horovitz sent the apology she wrote to the student as an official statement.
“I have always fought against racism or discrimination of any kind, and this 2012 article does not reflect my opinions and my teaching,” she wrote in the email.
Sirri Kuru said the NELC department condemned the post, calling it offensive, but acknowledged Khazzam-Horovitz’s apologies.
“The Department, when alerted to the post, agreed it was offensive and condemned the post unequivocally,” Sirri Kuru wrote in an email. “Dr. Khazzam Horovitz also admitted it was unacceptable, withdrew it, issued a written apology and offered to meet with the student.
In an emailed statement, Robert Stacey, the dean of the College of Arts & Science, said he had no plans to pursue the case.
“I’m not going to defend the post, which dates back to 2012. It’s not defensible, neither in 2012 nor now,” Stacey said. “Professor Khazzam-Horovitz admitted to placing the post on his Facebook account.”
The case has been transferred to the University Complaints Investigation and Resolution Office (UCIRO), which is investigating whether a UW employee has violated the university’s non-discrimination or non-retaliation policies.
UCIRO declined to comment on the matter.
From their perspective, the only adequate action the student said he received was Dudzinski’s help in connecting them to Sirri Kuru and Khazzam-Horovitz, and by ceasing to offer the Khazzam-Horovitz course – Bioethics: secular and Jewish perspectives – until issues are resolved.
Dudzinski also declined to comment for this story.
“If there is no accountability, there is nothing to fear,” the student said. “There is nothing to restrict them, [nothing] to hold them accountable. ”
Contact reporter Jadenne Radoc Cabahug at [email protected] Twitter: @jadennecabahug
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