Back when I went to Rutgers from 2011-2016, the University’s president, Robert Barchi, was constantly putting his foot in his mouth.
Whether it be the handling of Mike Rice (remember, the basketball coach who was throwing balls at his players) or just other general day-to-day happenings at Rutgers, Barchi always seemed to say the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time. Also, look at the dude: total goober.
Anyway, speaking during a student government town hall last week, Robert Barchi said: “If I’m a Ku Klux Klan member, and I’m going to burn a cross on a vacant lot, that’s a constitutionally protected right.”
At the November 16 student government town hall, Barchi noted the protections to incidents such as the anti-Semitic posts allegedly shared on the Facebook of a food science professor, the swastika graffiti on a Rutgers dorm, and an international law professor who accused Israel of trafficking human organs.
“If I’m a Ku Klux Klan member, and I’m going to burn a cross on a vacant lot, that’s a constitutionally protected right,” Barchi said, although the act of burning something would likely be prohibited by local ordinances.
“You put that cross on my front yard, and you light it, that is not constitutionally protected, that’s harassment. It’s an exception to the First Amendment. It is free speech, it’s not hate speech,” Barchi said, prompting a loud and visceral response from student activists who attended the meeting and insisted that it was in fact hate speech.
“If it’s a general building on the university, that’s First Amendment rights,” Barchi said.
President Barchi also spoke in support of three professors who have come under fire for their comments, arguing that what they’ve said is protected by academic freedom and the First Amendment. Those rights would extend to Michael Chikandas, a microbiology professor in the food science department, who allegedly shared dozens of anti-Semitic posts on his Facebook. Thousand of students have since signed a petition calling for his removal from the university, which so far, has garnered over 5,000 signatures.
Now, while what Barchi is saying is technically true, it doesn’t mean he should go around saying it. Like, you know when your girlfriend looks tired, and instead of saying “hey, you look like shit” (even though its true) you just keep your mouth shut? Barchi should try the same.