NJ college professor tells conservative student: “F*** your life!”
MIDDLETOWN — A professor at Brookdale Community College is being accused of using vulgar and racist language in class and harassing a student for being politically conservative.
Howard Finkelstein, who teaches the Sociology 105 course at the public school in Monmouth County, was caught on video last week telling that student to “f*** your life” during a discussion about sexual harassment.
“I’m getting bullied by a professor. I’m paying to learn something. I’m not getting that,” Christopher Lyle, 26, told New Jersey 101.5 after sharing the video.
Lyle says he has registered complaints with the school’s administrators but has not heard a response. Finkelstein has not returned a call or email seeking comment.
"I want something done about it because, honestly, the way I get treated, it's uncalled for," Lyle said. "Nobody wants to do anything."
Conservatives around the country have long complained about how their political views get short-shrifted in academe. But even students of Finkelstein who agree with his views on social justice have complained.
Joey Smith, the student who recorded the video, said Finkelstein used a racial slur for black people at least three times in class.
“Have you heard the term n**** before?” Smith says Finkelstein asked him. Smith says he is the only black student in class and often agrees with some of Finkelstein's points, just not how he runs his course. “He was purposely trying to say it just to say it. What point does that drive?”
Smith says Finkelstein singles out Lyle because of his political views and will sometimes spend class time discussing Lyle even when he’s absent.
“I watch how he talks to him. He says things in a degrading way,” Smith said. “It’s just not professional. It’s almost like he’s trying to be his therapist.”
In the conversation caught on video, the class was discussing how women are victims of sexual harassment. Lyle said he interjected how men also can be victimized by women and offered a personal example. That's when Finkelstein slams the desk in front of him and shouts: "F*** your life!"
“The goal of the class is to fight bias and fight prejudice but he is probably one of the most biased and prejudiced people,” Lyle said. “He has said that he does not like Christian men."
"He’s been targeting mainly white men. I'm definitely his No. 1 target."
Lyle said he has tried talking to Finkelstein about his behavior but he hasn't changed. He even thinks it's affecting his grades. After getting an 80 on a paper, Lyle asked Finkelstein why. Lyle says his answer was just: "Because."
The Republican leaders of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholder said Tuesday that they had confidence that the college's administration "will handle this matter in a professional manner to ensure that no student at Brookdale will be subjected to a hostile environment on their campus."
"It is the job of Brookdale’s faculty and staff to nurture the educational and personal growth of each and every student and we are confident that appropriate measures will be taken if any actions are found to be in conflict of this goal," Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone and Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry said in a statement.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.