SYRACUSE, NY — The Jewish community of Syracuse University has publicly called for the condemnation of Professor Robert Aldrin’s antisemitic actions last week.
Professor Aldrin gave a failing grade to Micah Wittenberg, a junior in the psychology department, who has been notably outspoken on campus about his Jewish identity and support for Israel.
Speaking to a reporter, Wittenberg explained, “I had heard since the beginning of the semester that some professor in the department had said antisemitic things before. I didn’t know who it was, but I never wanted to go to class because of it. In fact, I think I only went to lecture once, and I never went to discussion. Still, I didn’t expect he would actually fail me just because I’m Jewish.”
A month before finals, Wittenberg received an email from Aldrin, which read, “You currently have a 24% in my class. You have yet to submit a fully-written paper, and your midterm exam received the lowest grade I’ve ever seen. If you intend to pass, I would suggest you start attending discussions as soon as possible.”
“Can you believe he sent that on the day before Passover?” Wittenberg expressed. “This was clearly a thinly veiled threat, that he knew I wouldn’t abandon my religious commitments so he would have to fail me. I knew I had to protest this, so I sat out the weekly quiz which occurred during Chol Hamoed, as well as the one during the second week of the Omer.”
Wittenberg has publicly called this an “outright aggression against the Jewish people” that has made him “no longer feel comfortable being a Jewish person on this campus.” He ended the semester with an 11%, which the Student Portal shows was inserted by a TA.
Hillel has released an official statement asking the university administration to condemn Professor Aldrin and rectify his offensive actions. Fellow Jewish students have started a grassroots social media campaign using the hashtag #GiveMicahHisA, sharing harrowing stories of times professors have antagonized them for nothing but their culture, faith, and general work ethic and commitment to the class.
Robert Aldrin told one reporter, “I don’t care who he prays to. The kid turned in empty assignments all semester. Also, my wife and kids are Jewish.”
Wittenberg has since appealed for a grade change, posted on his Facebook story with an infographic about the rise of antisemitism, and realized that he actually used to play JCC soccer with Aldrin’s son, Isaac.