A Kirkwood Community College professor who attracted national attention for claiming affiliation with the anti-fascist movement “antifa” has resigned, Kirkwood President Lori Sundberg announced Friday.
Jeff Klinzman, an adjunct professor in the English Department, has circulated controversial political opinions on social media and to news outlets, recently telling KCRG-TV, “I affirm that I am ‘antifa.’”
In response to a recent tweet from President Donald Trump calling antifa “gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighting) people over the heads with baseball bats,” Klinzman wrote, “Yeah, I know who I’d clock with a bat,” according to local and national media reports.
Sundberg said in a message “to the greater Kirkwood community” that the school’s leadership “has been assessing this matter in recent days, especially its potential impact on our learning environment.”
“With the safety of our students, faculty and staff as our top concern, we made the decision this morning to identify an instructor who will take over the one course that Mr. Klinzman was to have taught this semester,” Sundberg reported. “We have spoken with Mr. Klinzman this afternoon about this matter and have accepted his resignation.”
Klinzman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
His ouster comes at a time of heightened political tensions nationally and stokes the often-debated protections of free-speech ideals on college campuses, an issue Sundberg acknowledged.
“Some may use this decision to support broader arguments about free speech on college campuses,” she wrote. “That’s why I want to be very clear with you the reasoning behind this decision.”
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Though Klinzman expressed controversial political opinions publicly as far back as 2012, his recent comments drew “considerable attention from many inside and outside of the Kirkwood community just as we embark on a new school year,” Sundberg wrote, saying that harms the school’s mission.
“Our decision to remove Mr. Klinzman from the classroom has nothing to do with the substance of his views or his right to express them,” Sundberg wrote. “Rather, our decision is based solely on our commitment to fostering a safe learning environment for our students, faculty and staff.”
Additionally, Kirkwood announced its security team would be visible across campus when classes begin Monday, and that Cedar Rapids police will be there, too.
Jon Buse, vice president of Student Services, and Jennifer Bradley, executive dean of the English, Arts and Humanities Department, will visit classrooms Monday to brief students on the issues and on steps being taken to ensure safety.