Princeton University leadership is looking to fire a tenured classics professor citing his alleged unwillingness to cooperate fully in a sexual-misconduct investigation, but his supporters say otherwise, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The outlet reports Princeton's president sent a letter to the school's board of trustees recommending that Professor Joshua Katz be dismissed over a previously adjudicated and settled conduct violation.
Katz's supporters claim the recommended dismissal is punishment for speaking out against the elite liberal school's political party line.
According to the Journal, Katz upset the school's liberal faculty when he criticized their proposals to address the school's legacy of racism following the death of George Floyd in 2020.
In the "faculty letter" signed by dozens of educators at the Ivy League school, Princeton staff proposed, among other radical changes to the campus, a series of perks for professors "of color," including a summer salary and additional sabbatical time.
The letter framed these requests as attempts to balance racial disparities among school employees.
"It boggles my mind that anyone would advocate giving people – extraordinarily privileged people already, let me point out: Princeton professors – extra perks for no reason other than their pigmentation," Katz wrote in response to the letter.
Katz was found to have violated school policy over a consensual sexual relationship he had with an undergraduate student beginning in 2006.
Critics of the school say the previously settled incident's resurrection is a blatant attempt to silence Katz for his political beliefs.
A lawyer for Katz agreed, telling the Journal that a past relationship with a student had already been adjudicated and that the school was going after Katz for his political beliefs.
"If expressing an unpopular opinion is an invitation to have your personal life turned inside out looking for damaging evidence, how many people are going to be willing to speak out?" Samantha Harris, Katz’s lawyer, told the Journal.
Multiple investigations were conducted by the school that ultimately concluded Katz didn’t fully cooperate with and misled investigators, and discouraged the former student from seeking psychiatric help when she threatened self-harm.
Those two violations were cited in the letter recommending his dismissal, according to the Journal. Katz has been on paid administrative leave since July.
A Princeton spokesperson told the Journal that the school does not comment on personnel issues.