The conduct of a tenured professor who called Barbara Bush a "witch" and an "amazing racist" was "insensitive, inappropriate, and an embarrassment to the university," Fresno State president Joseph Castro said in a statement Tuesday. But he added that since Randa Jarrar was acting in a private capacity, her tweets are protected free speech and she will not be fired, the Fresno Bee reports. Castro said university staff had consulted with California State University lawyers to determine whether they could take disciplinary action, and had decided there was no justification for doing so. Jarrar, who bragged that she couldn't be fired, will remain on leave for the rest of spring semester, as arranged before her Bush remarks.
"Our duty as Americans and as educators is to promote a free exchange of diverse views, even if we disagree with them," Castro wrote, but Fresno State encourages "opinions and ideas to be expressed in a manner that informs, enlightens, and educates without being disparaging of others." More than 45,000 signed a petition calling for Jarrar's firing, the Hill reports, though free speech activists were on her side. The Arab-American professor, who said the former first lady "raised a war criminal," tells the Cut that she stands by her comments despite the backlash. "The Bush family—including Barbara Bush—supported policies that harmed and destroyed the lives of millions," she says.