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Linguist fired by Princeton claims he is a victim of political persecution

Linguist Joshua Katz was fired by Princeton University, USA, after being part of its faculty since 1998. The institution’s board of directors stated that he was dismissed due to a consensual sexual relationship he had with a student in 2005, which is a violation of the university’s conduct. Having already been investigated and punished with a year’s unpaid leave for the same case in 2018, the scientist accused the university of hiding the real motivation for his dismissal.

In 2020, he publicly opposed an antiracist letter issued by colleagues that demanded more investment by the university in black students, faculty, and staff. At the time, Katz suggested that if implemented, the measures “would lead to civil war on campus and erode even further public confidence in how elite institutions of higher education operate.” In a column he wrote for The Wall Street Journal after his dismissal, Katz said he was a victim of “cancel culture.”

Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber insisted that Katz was fired as the result of a second investigation into his 2005 misconduct, after flaws were identified in the first. Eisgruber told a group of students that the university is committed to freedom of expression, but also to rules that protect students from misconduct by professors. Katz now works as a consultant at the newly created University of Austin in Texas, founded by conservative intellectuals and donors.