Boris Mityagin claims OSU attacking free discussion

OSU Faculty Emeritus Boris Mityagin. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

OSU Faculty Emeritus Boris Mityagin. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

A retired Ohio State professor with a history of sending controversial emails to his colleagues claims that the university has revoked his email privileges.

Boris Mityagin, faculty emeritus, received notice on March 28 that several of his Ohio State email privileges would be revoked. Mityagin claims that the university has no right to do so and is attacking his right to free discussion.

This notice came after multiple warnings from Vice Provost for Academic Policy and Faculty Resources Kay Wolf and Department of Mathematics Chair Luis Casian. Casian wrote his official notice to Mityagin by email, which was obtained by The Lantern through Mityagin.

“You have ignored my requests over several years and continue to send SPAM to the department,” said Casian in the email. “Moreover, your mass emails often contain language which is disrespectful to others in the department and the university.”

One such incident involved several remarks surrounding the Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. Wolf said in an email that Mityagin allegedly referred to the department as the Department of “Women, Gender and Rape Culture Studies” in an email on March 18 that reached more than 60 university faculty and staff members as well as several university listservs.

Additionally, Mityagin is cited as forwarding an email referring to Title IX training as “consensual sexual penetration training” from the same email in December.

Despite these allegations, Mityagin maintains that the department had no right to take away any of his email privileges. He has also denied saying any of the aforementioned comments.

Benjamin Johnson, director of media relations for OSU, stated in an email, “The individual in question was removed from the list for failing to follow the guidelines.”

OSU spokesman Chris Davey declined comment outside of Johnson’s statement.

Wolf warned Mityagin that his email account could be deactivated in an email on March 25, which said if he continued the “harassing and demeaning tone” of his emails and the abuse of the email system, the process of discontinuing the OSU email account would begin.

Mityagin said the ultimate decision of the mathematics department was to remove him from all mailing lists and deactivate three of his proxy addresses. He will continue to have a fully operational account from which he can still send and receive emails, Casian said.

Mityagin has claimed that they have no grounds to impose changes on his emails, claiming that the department’s “justification is phony” in an email to The Lantern.

“(The) administrators’ decisions are not justified by any OSU rule or regulation,” the email stated. “Kay Wolf talks about ‘tone’ and her feelings, she does not quote any rules.”

Following the removal of Mityagin from all department mailing lists, Casian sent a follow-up email outlining the deactivation of Mityagin’s proxy addresses, which are emails that use OSU’s servers but access them through a different address, such as Casian wrote that Mityagin would have the opportunity to have the addresses reactivated should he “sign a contract clearly stating that (he) will abide by the email guidelines in the policy document ‘Some guidelines for departmental interaction.’”

Despite this offer, Mityagin said he emailed Casian requesting the “text of the contract” directly following notification of the addresses’ deactivation on March 29. Mityagin claims he has still not yet received the contract in question or a response of any kind.

In the past, The Lantern has received emails from Mityagin, some referring to an article published in December.

One such email stated, “If The Lantern is honest and really wants to prevent suicide, write a series of articles on false rape accusations. If OSU is honest and really wants to prevent suicide, restore the definition of consent to a sane one and remove consent classes that automatically treat men as potential rapists.”

Mityagin has said that the removal of his proxy email addresses impedes his ability to stay in touch with his “scientific contacts with colleagues.”

“This is a tip of an iceberg: frontal attack on free discussion of academic issues on campus,” Mityagin said.