DePaul University fires biology professor over assignment about Israel-Hamas war

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DePaul University says it has fired a part-time biology professor after she gave an optional assignment to students last month asking them to write about the impact of “genocide in Gaza on human health and biology.” 

An investigation into the assignment offered by Anne d’Aquino “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,” according to the school. 

“The class was provided a new instructor, and the faculty member has been released from their appointment as a part-time faculty member,” DePaul University said in a statement to The Associated Press, adding that some students “expressed significant concern” about politics in a science class on how microorganisms cause disease. 

The Chicago-based school also said an email with the assignment showed support for people “resisting the normalization of ethnic cleansing.” 

Around the same time, DePaul administrators were grappling with an anti-Israel encampment on campus. 


Anne d'Aquino speaks after dismissal

DePaul adjunct professor Anne d’Aquino speaks to reporters with anti-Israel demonstrators standing behind her outside the university’s quad, on Thursday, June 6. (Jessica Ma/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

D’Aquino is appealing the decision, saying during a student demonstration on campus in support of her last Thursday, “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 was teaching Health 194, Human Pathogens and Defense in early May, according to CBS Chicago.  

In its online academic catalog, DePaul describes the course as introducing students “to the diverse microorganisms that cause significant disease within the human population.” 

“The biological basis of infectious disease will be explored with a focus on the mechanisms of viral and bacterial infection and spread,” the course description adds. “The principles behind tools used combat infection will be examined, including antiseptics, antibiotics/antivirals, and vaccination.”


Humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza

Palestinians storm trucks loaded with humanitarian aid in Gaza on May 18. D’Aquino says, “For months, scientists and physicians have been warning about the spread of infectious disease in Gaza – due to starvation, malnutrition, overcrowding, destruction of critical water and sanitation infrastructure.” (AP/Abdel Kareem Hana)

DePaul University said in a statement to Fox News Digital on Monday that “The faculty member has initiated an appeal, as is her right under the Faculty Handbook” and “That process is currently underway and will be completed soon.”

D’Aquino did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment from Fox News Digital, but she said last week at the rally, “My case is a reminder that if faculty and staff are not protected from the swift and severe reprimand of this university, students most certainly are not either.” 

Palestinians flee Rafah

Displaced Palestinians arrive in central Gaza after fleeing from Rafah on May 9. (AP/Abdel Kareem Hana)


“The assignment was, in fact, related to the course and its objectives,” D’Aquino also said. “For months, scientists and physicians have been warning about the spread of infectious disease in Gaza – due to starvation, malnutrition, overcrowding, destruction of critical water and sanitation infrastructure.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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