Fresno State Reviewing Professor Randa Jarrar After Slam of Barbara Bush



UPDATE: Fresno City College — issuing a statement this Wednesday afternoon saying that Randa Jarrar will not headline Lit Hop this weekend as previously scheduled. The school also clarifying that Jarrar’s views are not reflective of them nor of Lit Hop. 

Statement Regarding Randa Jarrar

Fresno City College and the LitHop 2018 organizers wish to send condolences to the Bush family as we join the rest of our country in mourning the loss of our former First Lady, Barbara Bush.

The headline speaker for LitHop 2018, Randa Jarrar, has informed the LitHop organizers that she will not be a participant in this weekend’s events, which included her appearance at Fresno City College Saturday evening.  Fresno City College and LitHop 2018 support her decision to withdraw.

While we respect the right to free speech, even objectionable speech, Jarrar’s statements are her own and do not reflect the values of LitHop or Fresno City College. We acknowledge the severity of her statements and take very seriously the concerns expressed throughout the community. The safety of each individual, including Jarrar’s, and all members of the LitHop and Fresno City College community is our paramount concern. We do not support violence or threats on social media or elsewhere; rather, we value civil discourse and look forward to the necessary healing ahead.

LitHop 2018 events will continue as scheduled with a different headline reader to be announced soon. For more information regarding LitHop 2018, please contact Lee Herrick, Founder of LitHop at [email protected].


FRESNO, CA (KMJ)  Fresno State officials are reviewing another faculty member after her social media posts went viral Tuesday.  A firestorm erupted after 40 year-old Associate Professor Randa Jarrar went on a Twitter tirade following the passing of Barbara Bush at age 92.

[Pictured: Provost Lynnette Zelezny]


Among the numerous posts Tuesday, Jarrar called the former First Lady an “amazing racist who along with her husband, raised a war criminal. F**k outta here with your nice words”.  And wrote that she is dancing “happily on the grave of some I despise.  It’s SO FUN!”

Provost Lynette Zelezny called the comments posted by Jarrar “deeply disrespectful” and do not represent the values of the University.

Jarrar locked her Twitter account Tuesday evening after the posts went viral nationally.  “I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee” she tweeted.


Zelezny says officials are taking the matter “very seriously” and Professor Jarrar is not teaching this semester, nor is she presently on campus.

University President Dr. Joseph Castro was in Long Beach attending meetings at the time of the news conference.  He later appeared on the Ray Appleton Show, in an an exclusive interview:

He also issued the following statement:

Right off the bat, President Castro offered sympathy to the Bush family. He said flags were lowered on campus to honor former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Then he spoke of the dishonor in Professor Randa Jarrar’s s inflammatory tweets, and the larger picture of free speech, “Ray, I also want all of your listeners to know that I condemn the tone, substance and timing of Dr. Jarrar’s comments on Twitter, last night,” said President Castro. “I want that to be unambiguous. And how do I feel? I was shocked, upset, appalled just like everybody else.”

In her tweets, Professor Jarrar mentioned her tenure was solidly protected, tweeting from her verified account, “I will never be fired,” but speaking to Ray Appleton, President Castro said, “it would be incorrect to assume that a tenured professor can do and say whatever they want.”

Academic tenure is a contract with no expiration, and professors don’t have to be reappointed to keep their position. Professors with tenure can only be terminated under extraordinary circumstances defined by a university policy. The concept of tenure was founded by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in 1940 under the Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

President Castro said they will look at the facts and come to a decision.

“We’re going to continue to have forums to educate our people about civility and respect and yes, of course, freedom of speech that we all enjoy,” said President Castro. “This isn’t just about a professor, this is a right that each of us has but it comes with a responsibility.”

According to her Fresno State biography (below), “Professor Randa Jarrar is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, essayist, and translator. Randa grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and she moved to the U.S. after the Gulf War. Her first book, A Map of Home, was published in seven languages & won a Hopwood Award and an Arab-American Book Award. Her newest book, Him, Me, Muhammad Ali, won the Story Prize Spotlight Award. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Utne Reader, Salon, Guernica, The Rumpus, The Sun, and others. She has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Hedgebrook, and Eastern Frontier, and in 2010 she was named one of the most gifted writers of Arab origin under the age of 40. She is the executive director of RAWI, the Radius of Arab American Writers.”

Click to listen to the reports by KMJ’s Dominic McAndrew:

Click to listen to the report by KMJ’s Liz Kern:

Click to listen to Ray Appleton’s interview with President Joseph Castro: