Jun 18, 2019
Fresno State English professor Randa Jarrar is greeted by protesters during her return to campus on Sept. 5, 2018 following a controversy over her tweets about former First Lady Barbara Bush in the spring. (Eddie Block/Contributed)

Professor Randa Jarrar returns to campus to protesters, supporters

Tenured professor Randa Jarrar, after being on leave, returned to Fresno State Wednesday encircled by a supportive entourage.

Jarrar made national headlines last spring after she posted fiery tweets against former first lady Barbara Bush shortly after Bush’s death.

Jarrar arrived back to campus to a group of protesters along with the entourage of supporters. Supporters welcomed Jarrar with hugs and signs stating, “We Love You Randa.” Meanwhile, the protesters asked Jarrar about her multiple tweets, one in which the professor called Bush a witch.

When Jarrar tweeted the messages last April, many people online responded to her tweets with calls to have Jarrar fired. Jarrar responded by tweeting, “I work as a tenured professor. I make ($100,000) a year doing that. I will never be fired.”

Jarrar also included Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro in her responses to critics.

Castro released a statement saying Jarrar’s views were contrary to the university’s core values, “which include respect and empathy for individuals with divergent points of view and a sincere commitment to mutual understanding and progress,” the statement read.

Jarrar and her entourage clapped and sang as Jarrar walked to class last Wednesday.

Ben Bergquam, a known Fresno protester who live-streams campus visits for Facebook’s “Frontline America,” asked multiple questions of Jarrar to which Jarrar responded, “You’re making me uncomfortable.”

Jarrar’s supporters then began to chant, “{Expletive} you and your neo-Nazi friends!” until Jarrar finally arrived at her classroom on the main campus. Jarrar entered her class while continuing to clap. Then she blew a kiss and asked her security detail to lock the classroom door.

A Fresno State representative stood at the door on guard.

After her class, Jarrar stopped to speak to media members, who had waited outside for nearly two hours.

“I loved it. I had a really good time. I taught Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,’” she said.

Bergquam repeatedly asked Jarrar, “Do you stand by your tweets?” However, Jarrar ignored his questions.

While the entourage traveled to a campus parking lot, Jarrar finally spoke to the protesters, saying, “You’re making me uncomfortable, and if you continue to speak to me, I will move forward with harassment.”

This article was submitted to The Collegian by Eddie Block, a Media, Communications and Journalism student studying multimedia.

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