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IU professor tweets article about ‘Women Destroying Academia’



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Kelley School of Business professor Eric Rasmusen has been accused of posting sexist and insensitive tweets to his Twitter account. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

A Kelley School of Business professor is facing condemnation from university officials, students and Twitter users for tweeting a quote from an article that says women are not suited for academia. 

Eric Rasmusen tweeted a line from an article Nov. 7 titled “Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably,” which read, “Geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine outlier high IQ with moderately low agreeableness and moderately low conscientiousness.” 

The article Rasmusen shared was published by The Unz Review, which presents controversial perspectives “largely excluded from mainstream media.”

His tweet received 295 comments from angry students and other Twitter users as of Wednesday afternoon. 

Rasmusen has taught business economics and public policy in the Kelley School of Business since 1992. He said he shared the tweet because a quote in the article stood out to him. 

“I don’t know the contents of the article,” Rasmusen said. “It was just the one part that I thought was interesting and worth keeping note of.”

Rasmusen said he was surprised his tweet received backlash. 

“It seems strange to me because I didn’t say anything myself — I just quoted something,” he said. 

Dean of the Kelley School of Business Idalene Kesner said Rasmusen’s tweet was disrespectful, and the university is taking actions to ensure fairness for students and faculty. 

“As the female dean of a business school, I disagree completely with the views espoused, and I’m disappointed,” Kesner said. “At the same time, I have to abide by the laws and take the actions I can within the environments that are within my control.”

Kesner said while she disagrees with his messages, Rasmusen has the right to share his views on his private Twitter because it is not affiliated with the university. 

Kesner said she received complaints from students, faculty and other universities about this issue. She said she is working with other faculty members to review Rasmusen’s grading policies to ensure the professor’s grading is unbiased. 

Students registered for spring courses with Rasmusen will be allowed to switch to classes taught by different instructors, Kesner said. 

“We are allowing students to choose a different course in exchange for this particular course and will help them find alternatives,” Kesner said. 

Executive Vice President and Provost Lauren Robel issued a statement to Kelley School faculty, staff and students Wednesday. She expressed her disagreement with Rasmusen’s views. 

“His expressed views are stunningly ignorant, more consistent with someone who lived in the 18th century than the 21st,” Robel said in the statement.

Robel said IU officials have been inundated with demands to fire Rasmusen, but they will not, as he has the right to express his views under the First Amendment. 

Robel said IU will require Rasmusen to use double-blind grading on assignments, to ensure that students’ grades are not affected by Rasmusen’s prejudices. 

Rasmusen responded to the provost’s statement Wednesday in an email to the Indiana Daily Student.

“To show students that they need not fear bias in grading, the university is condemning a dissident professor, requiring him to use blind grading, and allowing students to opt out of his class,” he said in the email. “This, it is claimed, will make students relaxed and feel able to express their political views without fear of retribution. Having seen the university crack down on the one outspoken conservative professor, students will feel more comfortable in expressing their views while at Indiana University — that is, they will know what to expect if they speak freely in the classes of the 999 liberal professors. Of course, IU 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 heaven help the student whose professor checks his twitter account before issuing grades.”

Twitter users also resurfaced some of Rasmusen’s older tweets. In March 2018, he tweeted,” I just realized--- Women's Studies and Home Ec are the same thing. They are both meant to teach a woman how to live her life. It's just that only one of them keeps its promise.”

Many students replied to his tweet, tagging IU’s Twitter page.

Rasmusen also stirred controversy in 2003, when he expressed negative views of gay people on an IU server. In his blog, he offered his beliefs about about why gay people should not be teachers, elected officials and doctors.

"A second reason not to hire homosexuals as teachers is that it puts the fox into the chicken coop,” Rasmusen said in a blog post originally published in Aug. 2003. “Male homosexuals, at least, like boys and are generally promiscuous. They should not be given the opportunity to satisfy their desires.”

Former Kelley School of Business Dean Dan Dalton asked Rasmusen to remove his posts from the IU server in September 2003, but university officials allowed Rasmusen to re-add the log to the server the next day.

Maggie Hopkins, IU alumna and former student body vice president, worked alongside Rasmusen at Bloomington Faculty Council meetings last year and said Rasmusen’s views often conflicted with hers. 

During a Nov. 2017 Bloomington Faculty Council meeting to discuss the controversial Thomas Hart Benton Murals in Woodburn classroom 100, Rasmusen was the only faculty member to support the continued use of the classroom. The murals detail Indiana history, including a depiction of Ku Klux Klan members. The council eventually repurposed Woodburn 100 as a gallery, rather than a functioning classroom.

Hopkins said she worries that Rasmusen treats his female students and colleagues unfairly. She said his tweets were offensive and degrading to women.

Hopkins said she hopes the university takes action because over half of the university’s students are female.

“I believe the university is doing a disservice to its students, male and female, if they allow a man who espouses those ideas to be in charge of their education, in any capacity, even in one classroom,” she said. 

Women in Business president Amanda Novicoff partnered with three other student groups — Women in Business, Alpha Kappa Psi, Social Enterprise Engagement at Kelley School and 180 Degrees Consulting —  to submit a formal complaint to Kesner on Tuesday afternoon.

“I believe he is creating a hostile and uncomfortable environment inconsistent with IU’s message,” Novicoff said. 

Novicoff said she wanted to create something to draw attention to this issue. 

“We wanted a way to create positive momentum at IU in light of this situation,” Novicoff said. “We decided that the best way to do so is would be to start a fundraiser for Girls Inc.”

Novicoff worked with other Women in Business members to create black sweatshirts reading “Female genius.” on the front and “Support women in academia” on the back in white lettering. 

“We want people to rep the message around campus as much as possible because what he’s saying is exactly the opposite of what IU tries to push,” Novicoff said. “We want people to reestablish that this is who we are.”

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