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DePaul fires adjunct for assignment on health impacts of Gaza ‘genocide’

Says was ‘incorporating the diversity, equity and inclusion’ that she ‘prioritizes in all of her teaching’

DePaul University has fired an adjunct professor over an optional assignment on the “biological and health impacts” of Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza.

Based on current events, Anne D’Aquino gave students in her “Human Pathogens and Defense” class a second option for their sixth assignment: “Applying critical thinking, scientific analysis, and communication to a decolonized future.”

“I am expanding the scope of assignment 6 to include a second option,” D’Aquino prefaced in the assignment, which can be viewed at CBS News.

Today Israel rejected a ceasefire deal and continues to bomb Rafah, where over 600,000 children are currently sheltering. This comes just four hours after ordering Palestinian families to evacuate the area. Many view this as the last phase of the genocide/ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinian people. I encourage students to use scientific analysis and critical thinking to understand and communicate the impacts of genocide on human biology, and the creation of a decolonized future that promotes liberation and resists systemic oppression.

Hired at the beginning of April, D’Aquino (pictured) said she thought this particular course “would allow her to discuss the intersections of humanities and biology.”

But earlier this month her department chair questioned some of the assignment’s word choices, such as “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.” D’Aquino responded that these “are the accurate terms,” and cited “reasonable evidence” by rights groups including the United Nations.

She was fired the next day. Her termination letter noted “faculty are obligated to avoid significant intrusion of material unrelated to the course.”

MORE: Death threat, vandalism among 1,000 complaints against anti-Israel encampment: DePaul

From the story:

D’Aquino questioned the university’s decision to terminate her within days. She also rejected the accusation that the assignment was an effort to incorporate politics.

“I was really trying to make sure my classroom—I was, incorporating the diversity, equity and inclusion that I prioritize in all of my teaching; making sure that students are heard and seen. However, it’s important to note that biologists, scientists, and anybody in any field—we don’t exist in bubbles.”

D’Aquino said only one student expressed concerns directly to her—a conversation they had openly with the rest of the class.

“I did have an outpouring of support from students who appreciated the assignment,” D’Aquino said.

She said she is disappointed and confused and said that it is still unclear to her what she did wrong.

In a statement, DePaul said it had received “multiple complaints from students […] about the introduction of political matters into the class.”

The school cited the faculty handbook which reads “faculty are obligated to avoid significant intrusion of material unrelated to the course, to avoid any coercion of the judgment or conscience of students, to uphold the scholarly standards of one’s academic discipline, and to respect the rights of other persons to hold and express different intellectual positions.”

It also noted all faculty have the right to appeal a decision.

D’Aquino said she “hopes to get back to teaching the same students she left mid-quarter.”

MORE: DePaul faculty condemn colleague’s pro-Israel views, say he advocates ‘war crimes’

IMAGE: Anne D’Aquino/X

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.