Romanian award-winning theater director Andrei Serban says he recently resigned from Columbia University alleging the political correctness he encountered reminded him of communism in his home country.
Serban, who has been a professor at the Ivy League university since 1992, complained about demands he faced in the theater department claiming he was under pressure to admit a transgender applicant who auditioned as Juliet for Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet, ” in an interview with Romania’s public broadcaster TVR broadcast last month.
Serban fled Romania during the communist era and emigrated to the United States. In 1970, he went to Paris to study at Peter Brook’s International Center for Theater Research.
In the interview aired on TVR on Oct. 26, Serban says that after a faculty member retired, the remaining professors in the department were called in to a meeting to discuss a replacement.
At the meeting, 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 who 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. “It felt like I was living under communism again,” he said.
A second incident involving a male-to-female transgender student was the final straw for Serban. While reviewing applicants to the theater school, the transgender student prepared Juliet’s monologue from “Romeo and Juliet.”
Serban says that he the person was not credible in the role of Juliet. After his colleagues disagreed with him, he resigned.
“Political correctness is a jaundice for America,” he said.
“In the Trump era, the right is very radical, the left is very radical. Universities in America are normally to the left, while in Columbia you have a kind of socialism, that is moving toward communism, a new kind of communism.”
Serban is an accomplished theater and opera producer who served as the director of the Romanian National Theater and won a Tony Award.
He is still listed as a professor on the university website.