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University dismisses biology professor after assignment tied to Israel-Hamas war

By: Associated Press//June 11, 2024//

DePaul University adjunct professor Anne d'Aquino speaks to reporters with pro-Palestinian demonstrators standing behind her outside the North Side university's quad, Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Jessica Ma/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

University dismisses biology professor after assignment tied to Israel-Hamas war

By: Associated Press//June 11, 2024//

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CHICAGO (AP) — DePaul University said it dismissed a part-time biology instructor after she gave an optional assignment related to the Israel-Hamas war.

Anne d’Aquino told students in May that they could write about the impact of “genocide in Gaza on human health and biology.” The theme of the spring class at the Chicago school was how microorganisms cause disease.

DePaul said some students “expressed significant concern” about politics in a science class.

“We investigated the matter, spoke with the faculty member, and found it had negatively affected the learning environment by introducing extraneous political material that was outside the scope of the academic subject as outlined in the curriculum,” DePaul said Friday in a statement.

The school noted an email with the assignment expressed support for people “resisting the normalization of ethnic cleansing.”

“The class was provided a new instructor, and the faculty member has been released from their appointment as a part-time faculty member,” DePaul said.

D’Aquino is appealing her dismissal.

About 50 people protested last Thursday in support of her, waving Palestinian flags, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“My termination was a breach of my academic freedom and another example of this administration’s efforts to twist any discussions of Palestine and Palestinian liberation language into false claims of antisemitism,” d’Aquino said at the demonstration.

She said the assignment was relevant, noting that scientists have warned about the spread of disease in Gaza due to malnutrition and a lack of water and adequate sanitation.

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