Ramapo investigates post found on professor’s social media

Social media posts on the Facebook page of a Ramapo College professor – that some groups have branded as antisemitic – are being investigated by the college.

In particular, the repost of a political cartoon about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that appeared on the Facebook page of associate professor of post production Renata Gangemi drew the ire of Jewish groups and New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who last Wednesday tweeted a condemnation of the post. Gottheimer said he also had a conversation with Ramapo President Cindy Jebb.

​​”We must keep all students safe on campus amid the rise of hate,” he stated.

The cartoon in question features a baby on an international law textbook under a cleaver held by a hand in a shirt sleeve printed with Israeli and American flags — a reference to Israel’s weeks-long bombardment of Gaza with American support. The group that drew attention to the post on X, StopAntisemitism.org, also posted a picture of Gangemi.

Ramapo announced the investigation on Nov. 28 on LinkedIn. 

In a statement, the college said it “has launched an investigation regarding the social media posts from a member of the Ramapo College community… Our continued expectation is that all members of Ramapo College model civil discourse, demonstrate empathy, and treat each other with dignity.”

Gangemi declined to comment, saying the she wanted to avoid potential interference with the ongoing investigation.

The investigation is being conducted by the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance in accordance with the New Jersey State Policy Prohibiting Discrimination in the Workplace. The zero-tolerance policy protects against all forms of prejudice, including racism, sexism and anti-religious bias.

The Office of Affirmative Action within EDIC will be taking the lead on the probe. The process first requires the filing of a complaint of discrimination or harassment. The investigating entity must then interview everyone involved and review evidence before sending a report of their findings to the respective state agency head to affirm or deny the violation of the policy.

“The investigative report is confidential and is submitted to the Office of the President for review and determination,” said Kat McGee, director of Title IX, ADA and Compliance Training at the college. “A confidential determination letter is then issued to both the complainant(s) and the respondent, providing a detailed account of the investigation results and whether the allegations were substantiated.”

If a violation has occurred, then there will be a remedial action decided by the People Operations and Employee Resources Department. While specific possible outcomes were not disclosed for this investigation, McGee stated that the sanction may include “referral for training, referral for counseling, written or verbal reprimand, suspension, reassignment, demotion, or termination of employment.”

As with all investigations under this policy, privacy and confidentiality are a priority, and the outcome will not be made public to avoid any kind of retaliation, as stated in the policy.

Student safety paramount

“A lot of students felt… a little bit afraid of showing their Jewish identity and being comfortable with showing their beliefs,” said Lucrecia Kleinmann, the president of Ramapo’s chapter of Chabad. “I know other organizations on campus have really tried to step it up and really support the students on campus,” she said.

“It is our responsibility to listen to the concerns of the campus over such an emotional and politicized issue while maintaining our focus on education and dialogue, developing critical thinking, and respect for diverse perspectives,” said Provost Michael Middleton in an email to The Ramapo News.

An influx of posts with anti-Israeli, antisemitic and anti-Palestinian content on social media in recent months has exacerbated real-world tensions in college communities and beyond.

Colleges nationwide have seen an increase in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents on campus. From Cornell to Rutgers to Columbia and beyond, the Israel-Hamas War has caused increasing conflicts between Jewish and Palestinian supporters in the United States.

Dr. Jacob Ari Labendz, director of the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, shared his perspective on how to cope with the strain.

“To further productive dialogue, it is essential that we continue to acknowledge the polarizing nature of this war and the century-long history from which it developed. Many of us still have to accept, as a starting point for productive discussion, learning, and even activism, that our entire political culture is deeply polarized today,” he stated in an email to The Ramapo News. “This means that we must work even harder to hear one another with as much empathy as possible.”


dbongiov@ramapo.edu & rgatherc@ramapo.edu


Featured photo courtesy of Ramapo College of New Jersey, Linkedin