A UCLA professor is suing the UCLA Anderson School of Management after he was suspended for refusing to grade black students according to different standards than white students.
Following the death of George Floyd last year while in police custody, students in the United States have initiated cancel campaigns against professors who did not support the social justice movement, which surged in popularity with the rise of Black Lives Matter. As a result, professors who refused to get in line have been fired or punished.
One of the professors targeted by a woke cancel campaign was UCLA accounting professor Gordon Klein. Klein’s students demanded he institute a “no-harm” final exam that would have provided special privileges for students of colour by shortening the length of the exams and extending deadlines for final assignments and projects, Inside Higher Ed reported.
As reported by the Daily Wire in June, students at UCLA demanded that two professors, including Klein, be fired for their refusal to go along with the demand.
The students demanded accommodations due to “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.”
“We believe that remaining neutral in times of injustice brings power to the oppressor and therefore staying silent is not an option,” the students said.
The students said that the request was a joint effort not to get finals canceled for non-black students, but was instead an attempt to get the professors to “exercise compassion and leniency with black students in our major.” The students used the death of George Floyd and the riots across the country to get professors to adhere to their demands.
Professor Klein refused their arguments and responded as such in an email to his students, earning him anger and outrage.
“Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota,” Klein wrote to the students. “Do you know the names of the classmates that are black? How can I identify them since we’ve been having online classes only?”
Klein also inquired about what he was expected to do with students 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?”
The professor did not restrain his remarks and went on to suggest that “a white student from [Minneapolis] might be possibly even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not. My TA is from Minneapolis, so if you don’t know, I can probably ask her.”
Klein concluded his email with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. about judging people for the content of their character and not their race.
As a result of the email, Klein was suspended. UCLA issued a statement denouncing the professor. They later reinstated him, but damaged his reputation and career in the process, prompting Klein to sue the college system.
The professor alleges that he was punished for treating students equally, as is required by California state law. He also alleges that the UCLA’s Anderson School of Management ignored a wider directive from UCLA not to punish him over complaints lodged by students. Klein says the incident caused him to lose clients where he was paid to be an expert witness.
Klein says that his action is not only to “redress the wrongful conduct he has endured but also to protect academic freedom.”