NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A New York University student wants her professor fired, claiming he spread far-right conspiracy theories in class and told students face masks don’t prevent the spread of COVID-19—but the professor says he was encouraging students to think critically and hadn’t asked them to not adhere to the school's mask policy.
Julia Jackson called out her NYU communications professor Mark Crispin Miller in a series of tweets Sunday directed at the university.
“An MCC tenured professor spent an entire class period telling students that wearing masks doesn’t prevent the spread of COVID-19, and that hydroxychloroquine trials were made to fail so more people would be given the vaccine and have their DNA changed,” Jackson wrote.
She said he followed up by sending students links to “far-right and conspiracy websites” related to the pandemic.
“It is not acceptable for NYU representatives to dismissively state that this professor is ‘entitled to his views’ … when he is spouting dangerous rhetoric that serves to cultivate fear and confusion during a pandemic,” Jackson wrote.
She said she hopes university officials “agree that this professor should not be trusted with educating and advising students, and I hope they take immediate steps to relieve him of these duties.”
Miller responded to Jackson in several posts on his blog, calling the tweets "venomous" and saying he wanted students to think critically in his Mass Persuasion and Propaganda class. He said he cited scientific studies to support his claims about face coverings.
“I do believe they should be thinking for themselves, and studying the evidence for any claim or mandate, instead of merely bowing to authority,” he wrote. “That’s my intellectual and civic obligation, as a teacher, whatever NYU’s official policy, or New York State’s. It’s one thing to expect the students to obey their institution’s rules, but quite another thing to urge them not to think about it.”
Miller posted a screenshot of an email he said was sent to his students by NYU addressing the matter. In the email, officials at the school said, “The tenets of academic freedom accord wide latitude to faculty in their scholarship and their teaching.”
“Amid reports that your professor … has been saying that masks are ineffective in checking the spread of COVID-19, we refer you to the most authoritative public health guidance, which recommends wearing a mask as an effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The evidence backs it up. And we remind you that wearing a mask is required at NYU,” the email reads.
Miller said he explicitly told his students that he didn’t advise them to ignore the school’s mask policy.
“We’ll be discussing this whole contretemps in class, as it perfectly exemplifies the power of propaganda, and the lengths to which the powers that be will go to safeguard its narratives from any contradiction,” Miller wrote.