'Deplorable' NYU prof slaps colleagues with lawsuit

Toni Airaksinen
New York Campus Correspondent

  • The New York University professor made popular by his undercover "Deplorable NYU prof" Twitter account is now suing his colleagues for defamation.
  • According to Professor Michael Rectenwald's lawsuit, false claims were made against him that "maliciously" portrayed him as everything from a drug abuser to Satan.
  • The New York University professor who launched an undercover Twitter account to attack identity politics on his campus is suing four colleagues and his school for defamation.

    Michael Rectenwald revealed in October that he was the professor behind the growing “Deplorable NYU Prof”  account on Twitter, which claimed to expose the “viral identity politics of academia and its destruction of academic integrity.”

    “My career at NYU has been curtailed by at least ten years."   

    [RELATED: NYU prof attacks ‘viral identity politics of academia’]

    Rectenwald contends that “all hell broke loose” soon after, alleging in his lawsuit that he was unfairly forced to take a medical leave of absence, and that he was the subject of numerous “false” claims made in email threads among university staffers.

    According to the lawsuit, these false claims “maliciously” portrayed Rectenwald as everything from a drug abuser to Satan, and Rectenwald alleges that they have collectively served to put his academic reputation and ability to serve as a professor in jeopardy.

    The lawsuit also implicates the school’s administration, claiming that it “had the power to stop these defamatory communications,” but instead “chose to do nothing to protect Professor Rectenwald or to mitigate the impact of the libelous statements.”

    Rectenwald told Campus Reform  that the cumulative damage has nearly destroyed his academic future at NYU.

    “My career at NYU has been curtailed by at least ten years,” he said, explaining that the committee that will vote to renew his contract will be made up of the very professors who have been privy to making allegedly defamatory statements against him.

    “Further, I am unable to serve on committees in order to do service work, which is one of the categories of service necessary for renewal,” he added.

    [RELATED: DOJ backs conservative students in lawsuit against Berkeley]

    “Thus, the savage attacks have real consequences. I am not seeking a safe space; I am seeking financial and punitive damages,” Rectenwald told Campus Reform, though the university is not persuaded by his arguments.  

    “This lawsuit is without merit,” NYU spokesman John Beckman claimed.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    New York Campus Correspondent
    Toni Airaksinen is a New York Campus Correspondent, where she reports on free speech issues and social justice research. She is a senior at Barnard College, majoring in Urban Studies and Environmental Science. She is also a columnist for PJ Media, and formerly held a post with USA TODAY College, The Columbia Spectator, and Quillette.
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