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USC Dismisses Complaints Against Prof. John Strauss

Professor claimed the recording was 鈥渟electively edited.
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June 20, 2024
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USC has dismissed the complaints against Economics Professor John Strauss over a exchange he had with pro-Palestinian protesters in November that went viral.

As previously reported by The Journal, Strauss had said to pro-Palestinian protesters on Nov. 9: 鈥淗amas are murderers, that鈥檚 all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are.鈥 A selectively edited clip of him just saying, 鈥淓very one should be killed, and I hope they all are鈥 went viral on social media to claim that he wanted all Palestinians killed. Strauss has maintained that the 鈥渆very one should be killed鈥 line was referencing Hamas, not all Palestinians. He was also accused of stepping on a list of names of Palestinians that have been killed in the Gaza Strip during the ongoing war with Israel; Strauss claimed that if he did step on it was by accident.

The university initially relegated him to teaching virtually the rest of the semester, as a 鈥減recautionary鈥 move to 鈥渕inimize classroom disruption鈥 before subsequently reinstating him to campus.

The exchange resulted in complaints of discrimination and harassment filed against Strauss; the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) all the complaints against Strauss were dismissed and there was a 鈥渇avorable resolution鈥 to the outcome.

鈥淲e鈥檙e pleased that Professor Strauss has been vindicated and that his rights have been acknowledged,鈥 AFA Academic Committee Chair Lucas Morel said in a statement. 鈥淭he university rightly found that John had not engaged in harassment and dismissed the complaints against him. The university also acknowledged John鈥檚 right to free speech and declined to subject him to discipline. The successful resolution of this case is a victory for academic freedom rights everywhere, particularly during these contentious times on campuses nationwide.鈥

Strauss also said in a statement, 鈥淚 am grateful to the AFA for its support during this difficult period. I hope this outcome will serve as a reminder to universities across the country that professors have a right to free speech both inside and outside the classroom. I am deeply relieved to put this case behind me.鈥

鈥淚 hope this outcome will serve as a reminder to universities across the country that professors have a right to free speech both inside and outside the classroom. I am deeply relieved to put this case behind me.鈥 鈥 Prof. John Strauss

The university The Los Angeles Times that they 鈥渁re unable to discuss any individual cases because of the confidential nature of personnel matters. USC takes allegations of harassment and discrimination seriously.鈥

USC Professor Anna Krylov and freelance statistician Jay Tanzman congratulated Strauss in a June 20 on the 鈥淰oices Against Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism at USC鈥 Substack. Krylov and Tanzman asked why the investigation took so long since 鈥渋t was clear from the very beginning Professor Strauss had done nothing wrong, and that the accusations were without merit and made in bad faith.鈥 They asked: 鈥淲hat about the miscreants who doctored videos of Professor Strauss鈥 encounter with the protesters, launched the vicious social media campaign against him, doxxed him and flooded his email with threats, and lodged frivolous and false complaints against him?聽What is their punishment?鈥

As previously noted by The Journal, the Times聽聽who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Daphne, who is responsible for one of the videos of Strauss鈥 now-viral remarks. 鈥淚 do not possess the ability to doctor a video like that,鈥 she told the Times. 鈥淎nd also we have a second video that matches so, like, there鈥檚 no way on God鈥檚 green Earth that I would have been able to doctor that video.鈥 The Times reported that while they could not find any evidence that the videos of Strauss were doctored, 鈥渁s the clip circulated online, it was at times trimmed to a few seconds of Strauss uttering, 鈥楨veryone should be killed.鈥 The captions and superimposed text in social media posts could be minimal, misleading or wrong.鈥

Krylov and Tanzman added toward the end of their post: 鈥淧rofessor Strauss鈥 treatment is yet another example of the double standard for Jews, as discussed in the聽Report to the President and the Provost. A USC student DEI ambassador tweets that she wants to 鈥渒ill every motherf鈥攊ng Zionist鈥? It鈥檚 all chill. A professor says that an Islamist terror organization must be exterminated? Another matter.鈥 They called for USC to publicly apologize to Strauss.

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