Former Kirkwood Community College adjunct English instructor Jeff Klinzman’s resignation has been covered by national news outlets including Fox News and The Washington Times.
On Aug. 22, KCRG TV-9 reporter Josh Sheinblum ran a story involving posts made by Klinzman on his personal Facebook page as well as on an Iowa Antifa site.
Antifa stands for anti-fascist and Sheinblum defined it as “a militant leftist movement focused on physically fighting far-right and white supremacist groups.” The story quickly came to the attention of Kirkwood’s administration when comments from the public began coming in.
“It would have been the day after the KCRG news story,” said Kirkwood President Dr. Lori Sundberg. “We were starting to receive a lot of emails, some angry, some hostile, some implied threats either toward him or toward the institution and so we wanted to remove him from the classroom.”
According to Klinzman, the report from KCRG disrupted his relationship with the college. “Kirkwood was a very good fit for me,” he said. “Until Josh Sheinblum came by and messed it all up… Everything blew up once the story ran.”
In response to comments made by the public, Kirkwood reached out to Klinzman to discuss the situation.
Sundberg explained the phone call to Klinzman. “The call was basically to let him know that it was a safety issue for him as well as our students. During that phone call he was provided an opportunity if he wanted to resign and he chose to take that.”
Klinzman paints a different version of the conversation. “I was given a choice. That I could either resign or I was going to be terminated… There was no third option.”
When asked if that choice was given to him, President Sundberg replied, “No. The word ‘termination’ was never used. What we said is that we were going to remove him from the classroom for this term.”
On his choice to resign Klinzman said, “My decision to resign was based partly on the issue of campus safety but also partly on my aversion to being fired from a job… To me it’s preferable to resign. So that’s why I resigned. I knew at that point that I wasn’t coming back to campus. I wasn’t going to be teaching this semester.”
With safety being the main concern according to Sundberg, she also stated, “We had phone calls that came in that we didn’t know who they were from. We did have at least one in-particular threat that came in writing with a return address that ended up not being a legitimate return address.”
For his part, Klinzman said he isn’t accepting that safety concerns were the only reason he was given a choice between resignation and termination.
He referenced President Sundberg’s official statement when he said, “She has said categorically that the content of the post was not what drove the administration’s decision making in this whole issue and I dispute that. I don’t think that’s true.”
Klinzman explained his reason for seeking legal representation and his desired outcome. “I don’t want to make it appear like I’m in it for the money. That’s why I’m adamant that my preferred solution is reinstatement,” he said.
He also spoke of his affinity for the college. “Quite frankly, what I sorely miss about Kirkwood is the contact with the shear range of different types of students. That’s what I really miss, the shear diversity of different folks who come to Kirkwood,” said Klinzman.
Sundberg stated what she hopes that students and staff will get from all of this. “What I hope they take from it is that their learning environment and their safety is of top priority for us… It’s a challenge today to balance that. But we want to have a learning environment that’s free from disruption and where people feel safe. At the end of the day, that’s my job, right?”