NJIT Lecturer Dr. Jason Jorjani was placed on administrative leave on Monday, according to Matthew Goldstein, Chief Strategy Officer of NJIT.
According to President Bloom, NJIT administration is continuing their review of the situation involving Dr. Jorjani’s involvement with the alt-right movement, which was brought into the spotlight after the New York Times published a video where Dr. Jorjani appears to be making concerning statements.
Last week, The New York Times featured a video as part of an opinion piece by Jesse Singal exploring the undercover report compiled by Hope Not Hate. Singal explores what the alternative right movement really is, who composes it, and why it is dangerous.
The movement has been gaining momentum, according to Singal. He writes, “As a result of the growing influence of the far-right social-media ecosystem, once-moribund hate groups in both the United States and Europe — groups that mostly existed long before “alt-right” entered the vernacular — are enjoying a striking uptick in recruitment.’’
Singal asserts the movement is attracting mostly young white men who “appear to be exhibiting interest in far-right ideas in numbers that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. These young men are being radicalized largely through the work of a popular group of new far-right internet personalities whose videos, blog posts and tweets have been consistently nudging the boundaries of acceptable conversation to the right — one of the explicit goals of racist extremists everywhere.’’
The piece singles out Dr. Jorjani as the “architect of the Alt-Right Corporation’’”- a label that Dr. Jorjani agrees with, because he helped consolidate multiple far-right groups into the single umbrella of the Alt-Right Corp in order to share content on the website altright.com.
The recent news has created a firestorm on campus with an extremely strong reaction on Reddit where users expressed their various opinions on the recent series of events and what Dr. Jorjani’s future should be at the university. As of Monday night, the article has over 50 comments.
In response to the article by Singal, NJIT President, Dr. Joel Bloom sent an email to faculty and staff – but not students – on Wednesday articulating that Dr. Jorjani’s statements in the video are “repugnant and antithetical to our institution’s core values.”
The Faculty Senate meeting this Thursday is expected to discuss further updates on the review regarding Dr. Jorjani.
According to the NJIT course schedule, Dr. Jorjani had been instructing two introductory STS lecture courses alongside one senior seminar in Humanities and Social Sciences called The History of Ideas, totaling approximately 125 students.
In the video, Jorjani envisioned “a Europe, in 2050, where the bank notes have Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great. And Hitler will be seen like that: like Napoleon, like Alexander, not like some weird monster who is unique in his own category — no, he is just going to be seen as a great European leader.”
The video has caused a stir on campus, because many interpreted his quote to mean he endorsed Hitler. Dr. Jorjani says his words were taken out of context as a two hour conversation was stitched into a few-minute-long video clip.
In response, Dr. Jorjani published a blog post on his website stating, “My nightmarish prediction of a future that would follow from Western policymakers’ failure to address the Muslim migrant crisis in the present has been taken out of context.”
For the past week since the video was released, NJIT students have been discussing the news on social platforms such as Facebook and the unofficial subreddit.
“I was pretty shocked because he never expressed his views while he was teaching… I was surprised this was the same guy,” said Donnell Recuerdo, a senior civil engineering major and a student of Jorjani’s in Science, Technology & Society 405 course last Spring.
According to Dean Belfield of the College of Science and Liberal Arts, Jorjani’s year-end evaluation scores – submitted by students – are generally positive. Dean Belfield specified that there have not been any reports stating that he uses the classroom setting as a platform to share his political ideology.
“I had good healthy debates with him,” said Aneesh Muthiyan, a senior majoring in Information Technology. Muthiyan said Jorjani’s knowledge of various religions was impressive, stating that he [Jorjani] knew about as much about Hinduism as himself after a long-winded discussion with him after class. Muthiyan added that, “Whenever the topic of politics or anything controversial was brought up, he made it a point of not discussing it in class.”
Following the Charlottesvill rally, Dr. Jorjani and Richard Spencer have since had a falling out following the events after the Charlottesville rally. In the Sept. 20 blog post, Jorjani said he resigned from AltRight Corp. and Artkos Media because Spencer did not carry through on his promises to bring investors to their organization. In addition, he was upset at seeing “the corporation that was my brainchild turn into a magnet for white trash.’’