The Fresno State University professor who posted incendiary comments about former first lady Barbara Bush’s death is causing quite the headache among the college's donors.
Randa Jarrar tweeted she's “happy” former President George W. Bush “is probably really sad right now” in the wake of Barbara Bush's passing. Jarrar called the 92-year-old icon an “amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal,” referring to the former commander in chief.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro, who has apologized for Jarrar's tweets, told The Fresno Bee he has been inundated with messages from community leaders voicing outrage at Jarrar's comments. So far, though, no one has threatened to stop donating if Jarrar isn't fired.
But that doesn't mean such a scenario is unlikely.
“The conversations I'm having are more about their concern, and I share that concern,” Castro explained. “I understand where they're coming from. I'm asking them for understanding here as we work through the complexities of this issue.”
President @JosephICastro shares his thoughts on the importance of free speech, civil discourse and community support for the University's mission in educating the next generation of Valley and state leaders: pic.twitter.com/GoHDMK907H
— Fresno State (@Fresno_State) April 20, 2018
He added: “They're outraged, and I'm outraged as well. This is behavior that is unacceptable as a university that models the development of leaders; we just cannot tolerate it.”
One alumnus who has made sizable donations to Fresno State in the past, Ed Dunkel Jr., said he will wait to see how the entire ordeal blows over before he decides whether to withhold future donations to his alma mater.
“I have a lot of friends that I've been talking to, and these are people who donate now and talking about holding back, and some are even questioning whether to send their kids to Fresno State,” he revealed to the Bee.
While he is a big fan of Fresno State, Dunkel said he also has “huge concerns” about the current situation with Jarrar.
“This represents such an embarrassment to the university and the community,” he said. “It's hard to believe this is an isolated thing that just happened. I have to imagine people previously knew of this person's character and what she's about.”
The Fresno State College Republicans noted their outrage at Jarrar's inflammatory tweets in a statement of their own, which the group posted to Twitter on Wednesday:
An official statement regarding the comments made by a Fresno State professor about former First Lady Barbara Bush. pic.twitter.com/3CXjfWMhxB
— Fresno State GOP (@FresnoStateCRs) April 18, 2018
Despite calls for her dismissal — and potential damage to Fresno State's donor class — some advocacy organizations came to Jarrar's defense, arguing her mean-spirited comments are protected speech and do not constitute a fireable offense.
“Jarrar's tweets are unquestionably protected speech under the First Amendment, and Fresno State has no power to censor, punish, or terminate Jarrar for them,” Adam Steinbaugh, senior program officer for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told Fox News.
For her part, Jarrar previously boasted about her tenured position, suggesting she is protected from being fired over her tweets about Barbara Bush.