Professors take to Twitter in reaction to university firing professor over complaints his class was ‘too hard'

'We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class,' the student petition read.

‘They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure because I can count the house. They weren’t watching the videos, and they weren’t able to answer the questions,’ the fired professor argued.

Maitland Jones, a New York University organic chemistry professor, was fired after students complained that his class was ‘too hard,’ resulting in outrage from professors on Twitter.  

According to a New York Times article, 82 out of 350 NYU students in Jones’ class signed a petition last spring complaining that the course was designed for them to fail and that Dr. Jones, a renowned organic chemistry teacher formerly from Princeton, was “condescending and demanding.”

“We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class,” the petition read. 

Despite less than a fourth of the class signing the petition, in August of 2022 Jones received a note from Dean Gregory Gabadadze informing him that he had been terminated from his position. 

Jones cited that students struggled to pass his class because “They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure because I can count the house. They weren’t watching the videos, and they weren’t able to answer the questions.”

Professors on Twitter seemed to agree with Jones. 

NYU adjunct professor of journalism Elizabeth Spiers said Jones should not have been fired.


Associate professor of history at Maryville College Aaron Astor noted that while organic chemistry classes are “notoriously difficult” that did not justify “the Dean's irresponsible decision here.”



NYU Clinical associate professor Elisabeth Fay stated that the university response should be more concerning than the actual petition.



Several members of the medical field also weighed in on Jones’ firing. 

One professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine Adam Cifu said struggling in organic chemistry classes was expected, and pointed to “time management and study skills” that helped him eventually pass.



Steven Salzberg, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, called NYU’s decision to fire Jones “questionable” especially since “[t]he students' petition didn't even ask for NYU to fire him.”



“Everyone knows organic chemistry is a very difficult subject,” Salzburg told Campus Reform.

“I think it's a very troubling case where it appears the NYU administration is trampling on academic freedom,” Salzberg stated. “Their action will probably influence the behavior of other professors at NYU, and not in a good way.”

University of California San Francisco professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Vinay Prasad wondered about the necessity of organic chemistry as a prerequisite for medical school but argued that it was easy to “see [Jones] might be right and zoom results in lower test scores.”



Prasad told Campus Reform that online learning “is no substitute for in-person learning.”

“I also think the students complaining about the teacher, forgetting bad grades is an unusual cultural movement. This was not present 15 years ago, and I'm not sure it's a good thing,” Prasad commented. “Are students customers? Are teachers at the customer service industry? I don't think so.”

Prasad also reiterated his tweet stating that in his opinion, “Organic chemistry is absolutely not necessary to being a good doctor…[a]nd there are better things students could do to decide who is best to go into medical school.”

NYU alumni Pamela Tadross said Jones’ textbook on organic chemistry “is one of the reasons [she] fell in love” with the subject.



Tadross also stated that she wished Jones had been her professor at NYU and that Jones’ firing “won’t solve your problem [NYU].”





Campus Reform contacted every university and person mentioned and will update this article accordingly. 

Follow @kliseanderson on Twitter.