The Oregon Board of Rabbis sent a letter on Thursday to the Linfield University Board of Trustees calling for the chair and the university’s president to step down.
This comes after Linfield professor and faculty trustee Daniel Pollack-Pelzner earlier this month tweeted that he faced antisemitic comments from university leaders after he reported that multiple members of Linfield’s Board of Trustees had been accused of sexual misconduct by students and faculty over the past year.
Last week, the Pacific Northwest chapter of the Anti-Defamation League also wrote a letter to Linfield leadership expressing disappointment and concern.
Linfield denies that any such comments were said and in a statement Thursday the university pushed back on the allegations, saying “repeated lies propagated by a disaffected faculty member are undermining the mission of the university and distracting from the important work being done daily by dedicated employees and talented students.”
It continued: “Resurrecting old allegations that have been thoroughly examined by independent investigators does not make them suddenly true. The university is committed to take the action necessary to protect its integrity and the safety of its entire community.”
Investigators last year could not substantiate Pollack-Pelzner’s claims of antisemitism, in part because some of the statements were allegedly made in private meetings and could not be independently confirmed.
However, according to report summaries provided to OPB, outside investigators last year found that some of the incidents the professor characterized as sexual harassment did occur, though they were not found to violate Linfield policies around sexual harassment or Title IX.
Further allegations of antisemitic comments from President Miles Davis were also reported earlier this week by The Oregonian/Oregonlive.
“It is a grave cause of concern that not only has the President failed to foster a climate of accountability but that he has used this moment to levy antisemitic innuendos and disapprobations against a distinguished Jewish faculty member who, as Faculty Trustee, has attempted to restore trust on the campus at large,” the Board of Rabbis wrote.
“We are disturbed that someone whose job it is to lead has instead resorted to disparaging language about people of the Jewish faith.”
The Board of Rabbis is also requesting that the university implement guidelines on sexual harassment and a process for investigating misconduct — as well as require training for the board on bias, microaggressions and antisemitism.
“Linfield would be very happy — eager, even — to have a discussion with the Oregon Board of Rabbis. Their call is, by their own acknowledgment, based only on press accounts,” Linfield said in a statement. “The university would welcome a full and deep conversation about all the issues and concerns they raise, where the facts could be discussed as well as larger issues of campus climate.”