HAMMOND | Nearly two dozen students demonstrated Wednesday outside Purdue University Calumet in protest of a political science professor who they say made racially prejudiced remarks verbally and on his Facebook page, particularly targeting Muslim students.
Christopher Ramirez, who organized the protest, pointed to associate professor of political science Maurice Eisenstein's Facebook page, where he posted a picture and comment Sunday about 100 black Christians who were killed by radical Muslims. Ramirez said the picture and comment were posted on the first day of Eid, a traditional Muslim holiday. The Festival of Sacrifice, or Greater Eid, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son Ishmael (Isma'il) as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a sheep to sacrifice instead.A Purdue University Calumet political science professor said he has been cleared of nine separate complaints of harassment.
University officials have been investigating professor Maurice Eisenstein since November for comments he posted on his Facebook page months ago about Muslims killing Christians in Nigeria, as well as comments he made in the classroom.
Eisenstein said he went to the demonstration and that none of protesters was willing to talk to him. He said it seems people are upset about comments on his Facebook page. He said the picture and story about the 100 black Christians who were killed were carried on national media across the country, and he posted the picture as well as links from the African News Service.
"I had no idea it was a holiday," he said. "If someone had come and talked to me about it, I would have told them that. It was not intentional on my part. If I had known of the day's importance (Sunday), I might not have done that."
Ramirez, who graduated in December, said Eisenstein has targeted Muslims and women. Ramirez said he believes Eisenstein is protected by tenure, but the issue needs to be publicized.
Senior Wala Issa, 25, of Dyer, said she saw the posting and was offended. She also said she took a class with Eisenstein and withdrew because of remarks he made during class about Muslims.
"I sent a text to my friend and to a professor I know to ask them if this was normal behavior, if this was OK," she said. Issa said she filed a verbal complaint and a written complaint with the university.
Eisenstein has been a Purdue University Calumet faculty member since 1993. Among classes he is teaching this semester are American government and the senior seminar Dilemmas of Democracy.
Eisenstein also said he believes he is being targeted by students and a fellow professor because he is an Orthodox Jew.
"They say I teach religion in class. I believe the person who started this is a faculty member, and I believe that many of these are her students," he said. "I am the only one who comes in every day with a kippah (a cap) on. I don't know the answers to your questions. I made myself available. No one spoke to me. They are saying all of these bad things about me, but they wouldn't talk to me."
Wes Lukoshus, a spokesman for Purdue Calumet, released a statement late Wednesday saying:
"Purdue Calumet by its nature as a public university welcomes and encourages the exchange of thoughtful and diverse views and opinions. Likewise, the university does not condone expressions that are considered offensive, intolerant or disrespectful.
"That stated, certain, recent unpleasant comments exchanged between Associate Professor of Political Science Maurice Eisenstein and others have been communicated on the Professor's personal Facebook page. In no way do these comments reflect the university's position and commitment to tolerance and respect with regard to the right of free expression by all individuals.
"Nonetheless, though Professor Eisenstein is a tenured faculty member, tenure has no bearing on the nature of free expression, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, that Purdue Calumet faculty members choose to exercise on their personal Facebook page. Neither are there Purdue Calumet policies and regulations that extend to personal Facebook pages."