Monday, July 7, 2014

Showing contempt for Jewish donors, the University of Toronto promotes professor at center of antisemitic controversy

A controversial professor at the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, who was at the centre of an anti-Semitic classroom incident, was recently promoted by the University to the shock of many in the Jewish community.

Following the wide exposure of an anti-Semitic classroom "Jew count" facilitated by Rupaleem Bhuyan, then an untenured Assistant Professor with the University of Toronto's Faculty of Social Work, the university was deluged by complaints and concerns from its Jewish donors.

A disturbing 2009 incident involving Bhuyan was originally chronicled in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism by her then-colleague Professor Ernie Lightman, and has since been described by other faculty at the Factor-Inwentash School. According to these reports, which have not been denied by the University, Bhuyan supported the racism of students who wanted to avoid a visit, as part of their course, to the Baycrest Centre, a highly regarded Jewish geriatric care and research facility. Adrienne Chambon, the Director of PhD Programs at the U of T Faculty of Social Work at the time, recounted that Bhuyan told her, "‘racialized’ students come from underprivileged backgrounds and were justified in not wanting to be around old Jews because they are rich and would make them uneasy. "

Bhuyan also facilitated a classroom "Jew count" of faculty after making what Lightman described as an "inflammatory and inaccurate" assertion that half the department's faculty were Jews.

Upon learning about the shocking classroom behavior by one of its professors and the university's inadequate response, outraged Jewish donors who have provided millions to various university departments contacted the office of David Naylor, who was then the University of Toronto's president. Senior university administrators assured the donors that their complaints were being taken seriously and would be addressed.

However, in what was indicative of the real attitude of the university, Bhuyan was retained in her position. In contrast, rather than receiving support from the administration and their department, both Lightman and Chambon were ostracized by fellow faculty for exposing the incident and have since retired.

Demonstrating further contempt for its Jewish donors, the university recently promoted Bhuyan, who told Professor Chambon that racist attitudes towards Jews were "justified," to Associate Professor with tenure.

A fixation on race may be part of Bhuyan's modus operandi, who lists among her interests, "critical race theory." Bhuyan is the only member of the entire Faculty of Social Work's diverse staff to make a point of stating her ethnicity in her faculty biography, writing she "is a second-generation immigrant of Assamese/Indian heritage," seemingly as if it should be considered a qualification.

Among critical race theory's postulations is that people of color can only be the victims of racism, but never the perpetrators, no matter how blatant the racism they express.

Disappointingly, by promoting Rupaleem Bhuyan, the University of Toronto has effectively confirmed that such asinine, illogical bigotry is something it finds completely acceptable.

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