A Romania-born academic says he recently left his tenured position at Columbia University because the Ivy League school is “on its way toward full blown communism,” according to a Romanian TV interview translated by a Romanian-American immigrant.
Prof. Andrei Serban, an award-winning director, complained about the increasing social justice demands he faced in the theater department in the interview, which aired on Romania’s TVR1 Oct. 26. One prominent example he gave: pressure to admit a transgender applicant who auditioned as Juliet from “Romeo and Juliet.”
Andy Ionescu, a native Romianian speaker who immigrated to the United States in 1999, told The College Fix in a Twitter message that he translated the interview.
He said it was likely the first time that Serban made his resignation publicly known. Columbia still lists Serban as an active professor. Media relations did not respond to an email from The Fix, and Serban’s department did not return a voicemail. Serban did not respond to an email.
The TV host expresses incredulity at multiple points in the interview, seemingly shocked that the American higher education system is headed toward communism. Serban fled from the ideology, which ruled Romania for much of the 20th century.
Serban says in the interview that after a faculty member retired, the remaining professors in the department were called in to a meeting to discuss a replacement.
It was at this meeting that the dean of the art school told them that there were “too many white professors, too many heterosexual men,” and that it would be best to hire a minority or a woman, or a gay man.
Serban, who was the director of the hiring committee, says that he was told that it could not be someone like him because he is a man that has been “married, a heterosexual man who has children.”
The professor says that he then asked if they could choose a straight white male if the most qualified candidate happened to be so, and was promptly told that they could not. “I felt like I was living under communism again,” he said.
A second incident involving a male-to-female transgender student was the final impetus for Serban to resign, according to the translated video.
While reviewing applicants to the theater school, the transgender student prepared Juliet’s monologue from “Romeo and Juliet.”
Serban says that he could not believe that this person could become Juliet. After his colleagues expressed displeasure with him for stating as much, Serban resigned, saying that he could not violate his principles.
According to his faculty bio, Serban is an accomplished theater and opera producer who served as the director of the Romanian National Theater and won a Tony Award.