A tenured professor was suspended earlier this month when he rejected a request to postpone a final exam for black students, and his attorney is demanding his immediate reinstatement.
UCLA suspended professor Gordon Klein, who has worked at the Anderson School of Management for 39 years, for three weeks effective June 25 and launched a discrimination investigation after he followed orders from university officials to reject requests for special treatment amid the nationwide race riots.
Last week, Anderson School of Management dean Antonio Bernardo sent an email to students announcing an investigation into the accounting professor’s “troubling” behavior and apologized to students for the “added stress” caused by the ordeal, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
The incident prompted death threats directed to Klein that required Malibu Police to increase their presence near his home, while Bernardo caved to student demands for extra time to complete exams during the “difficult circumstances,” according to FOX News.
“I got a directive, as did my colleagues, that we should absolutely continue the traditional policy (of) the university, and give the exam as scheduled with only the normal excuses, such as you’re in a car accident, you had a death in the family,” Klein told FOX News’ Laura Ingraham. “I followed the specific direction my boss gave me and the school knows it.”
The ordeal began when a group of nonblack students appealed to Klein for a “no-harm” final exam that would only benefit students’ grades, and for shortened exams and extended deadlines.
Because of “traumas, we have been placed in a position where we must choose between actively supporting our black classmates or focusing on finishing up our spring quarter,” the students wrote, according to screengrabs shared with Inside Higher Ed. “We believe that remaining neutral in times of injustice brings power to the oppressor and therefore staying silent is not an option.”
The nonblack students wrote it was “not a joint effort to get finals canceled for non-black students, but rather an ask that you exercise compassion and leniency with black students in our major.”
Klein replied in an email that’s now enraging liberals, prompting more than 20,000 people to sign an online petition calling on UCLA to fire the professor, Fox News reports.
“Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota. Do you know the names of the classmates that are black? How can I identify them since we’ve been having online classes only? Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage, such as half black-half Asian? What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half?” Klein wrote back.
“Also, do you have any idea if any students are from Minneapolis? I assume that they probably are especially devastated as well. I am thinking that a white student from there might be possibly even more devastated by this, especially because some might think they’re racist even if they are not.
“My TA is from Minneapolis, so if you don’t know, I can probably ask her. Can you guide me on how you think I should achieve a ‘no-harm’ outcome since our sole course grade is from a final exam only? One last thing strikes me: Remember that MLK famously said that people should not be evaluated based on the ‘color of their skin.’ Do you think that your request would run afowl of MLK’s admonition?”
UCLA doesn’t want to discuss the situation, CBS Los Angeles reports.
“The lecturer is on leave from campus and his classes have been reassigned to other faculty,” the school of management wrote in a prepared statement on Wednesday. “Due to confidentiality and privacy laws and concerns, we are unable to comment further on this matter at this time.”
Klein’s attorney, Katlyn Patton with The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, explained in a letter to UCLA officials this week why they owe her client an apology.
“As a public institution, UCLA is bound by both the First Amendment and the laudable promises of academic freedom it makes to its faculty members,” she wrote. “Those obligations and promises are of even more importance during a crisis. Given that Klein followed institutional policy when he refused to alter his final exam procedures, this investigation is almost certainly based on the tone or viewpoint of his email, which was – however brusque – protected expression on a matter of profound public interest.
“Klein must be immediately reinstated, and UCLA’s leaders must make clear that their commitment to academic freedom is stronger than an online mob.”