Anti-PC Professor in High Demand

LS Professor Michael Rectenwald has condemned a former NYU professor for a tweet he considered to be inciting violence.

Diamond Naga Siu

LS Professor Michael Rectenwald has condemned a former NYU professor for a tweet he considered to be inciting violence.

By Diamond Naga Siu, News Editor

Self-proclaimed Deplorable NYU Prof tops the instructor list for many LS students. They want to enroll in his Writing II class next semester, even after adjunct professor Michael Rectenwald gained recent media attention for his Twitter handle @antipcnyuprof.

He is presently on a paid leave but will resume teaching next semester. LS freshman Ashley Choi is presently enrolled in his class, and she  has thoroughly enjoyed it. Choi called him a mad-genius type of person and said that while she was under Rectenwald’s guidance — before substitute professor Kristi Steinmetz started on Nov. 1 — the class was aware of his viewpoints against political correctness, trigger warnings and bias response hotlines.

“He told us about the hiring process at NYU, which claims to focus on ‘diversity,’ but actually, how they hire is basically leaving white people with almost 0 percent chance to be teaching at NYU,” Choi said. “I think he certainly deserves better though because he’s really sophisticated and intelligent but he’s only a part-time professor.”

She said that Rectenwald was a caring teacher and that she does not think he would say things to make himself famous or to
attract attention.

But even though Rectenwald has a good reputation — boasting a RateMyProessor score of 4.4 — students such as LS freshman Syanne Rios do not agree with his viewpoints and do not want to have him as a professor.

“This whole project of his seems to have gotten in the way of his student’s education from what I understand,” Rios said. “I definitely have a few friends who are interested in being in his class and hearing more about his opinions and some of the backlash he’s received from this ‘social experiment.’ I most definitely would not say everyone in LS wants him as a professor, however.”

She said that many LS students discussed his presence within the school, and Rios said that most of the people seemed split — they either wanted his class or wanted to avoid it.

LS freshman Audrey McCabe also heard similar, polarized opinions on Rectenwald, and she said that students who do not support the political culture at NYU used this conflict as an opportunity to voice how they really feel about their expectations and environment at the university.

“Freedom of speech has also become a hot topic between those who disagree on the nature of his suspension,” McCabe said. “I don’t believe it’s appropriate for a professor to run that type of [Twitter] account publicly, but I also don’t believe that NYU has the right to silence him. It’s still unclear — to me, at least — what the true motive was behind his suspension, which further complicates the situation.”

McCabe said she understands why some students, who feel overwhelmed by NYU’s politically correct standards, want to have him as a professor but also disagrees with Rectenwald’s viewpoints that political correctness is harmful.

LS sophomore Kate Howard had Rectenwald last year, and she said that she did not think much of him while enrolled in his class.

“I don’t remember much about what he talked about in terms of his beliefs, but he said on multiple occasions that he didn’t like moral absolutism,” Howard said. “I didn’t really have much of an opinion on what has been going on with him recently — I wasn’t too shocked — he seemed a little extreme in class and made some iffy jokes that most students wouldn’t laugh at.”

She said that besides letting her attend a different class section due to a scheduling conflict, he did not stand salient in her mind.

But none of that matters to Choi, because she thinks as long as a professor is intellectually fulfilling, his personality and personal beliefs do not matter as much.

“If being politically correct affects the teaching quality here, then I would definitely disapprove it,” Choi said. “As a student, all I care is if the instructors are good or not.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 7 print edition. Email Diamond Naga Siu at [email protected]