FRESNO, Calif. (CN) — A Fresno State professor who made world headlines last week for calling the late first lady and first mother Barbara Bush an “amazing racist” who “raised a war criminal” before the late first lady was cold, will keep her job, the university said.
Professor Randa Jarrar posted a series of controversial tweets, including, “I’m happy the witch is dead. Can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeeee.”
After worldwide attention, Cal State Fresno investigated whether Jarrar, a tenured professor, had violated university policies or codes of conduct. It concluded she did not, and would not be fired.
Cal State Fresno President Joseph Castro said Jarrar would face no disciplinary action because she was “acting in her private capacity” and speaking about a public matter on her personal Twitter account.
“Her comments, although disgraceful, are protected free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Castro said.
Critics blasted the university Wednesday for not punishing Jarrar, calling on alumni, donors and potential students to stop supporting or enrolling in the school.
Civil liberties groups criticized the college for investigating the professor’s tweets in the first place.
“The university’s response is antithetical to a core value of our democracy: the right to express views on issues central to our national conversation in ways that might be provocative or disagreeable,” the ACLU of Northern California said in a letter last week.
Jarrar took her Twitter account private after becoming famous, but not until she’d bragged about her $100,000 salary and status as a tenured professor.
“I will never be fired,” Jarrar tweeted.
Jarrar, who calls herself a “proud Arab-American,” published a novel, “A Map of Home” based on her experience growing up in the Middle East and United States. She was born in Chicago in 1978 and grew up in Kuwait and Egypt before moving back to the United States at age 13, according to her publisher Penguin Random House.
Jarrar is on leave through the spring semester, which she had requested before the controversy, according to Castro’s statement.