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Taylor v. St. John’s University

September 2020
St. John's University (Private college or university)
Staten Island, New York, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Richard Taylor
    Faculty/Staff
    Other

    Richard Taylor is an adjunct history professor at St. John's University.

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Classroom
  • Incident Responses:
    University investigation issuing in sanctions
    Faculty sanctioned
  • Incident Status:
    In litigation State Court
  • Incident Protested
  • Did not involve Speech Codes

Summary

Richard Taylor is an adjunct professor of history at St. John’s University. During a September 7, 2020 class about the “Columbian Exchange”—the process of globalization that began in the 15th century—Taylor posed the question whether the “positives justify the negatives.” Three days later, the Instagram account “sjuradicals” posted slides accusing Taylor of forcing students to “formulate a pros and cons list concerning the topic of slavery.” The account urged readers to direct a form letter to the university in order to “bring meaningful justice to this heinous crime committed by Professor Taylor.”

Taylor was summarily removed from teaching and, on October 5, informed that a “non-appealable” investigation had concluded he had violated the “University’s Policy against Bias, Discrimination, and Harassment.” The letter informing Taylor of the investigation’s findings did not identify which part of the policy he had violated, and university administrators refused to provide Taylor with the evidence used to support the finding.

On February 4, 2021, Taylor filed a petition with the New York Supreme Court alleging that St. John’s University had violated Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, a law that prohibits private colleges from making arbitrary decisions. This case is ongoing.