#UCLA professor suspended after refusing leniency for black students

#UCLA professor suspended after refusing leniency for black students

June 10, 2020 | 1:50pm

A professor at the University of California in Los Angeles says he was suspended from his job after refusing a student’s request to effectively cancel final exams for black students amid protests over the death of George Floyd.

“I have been placed on involuntary leave for three weeks, and it looks like it may end up being more than that,” Gordon Klein, who teaches accounting at the school, told The Post.

Klein — who students slammed as “racist” and “dismissive” — was also placed under police protection at his Malibu home after receiving threats from critics furious over the email exchange, The Free Beacon reported.

The controversy began when a student, who identified as a white ally of black students, wrote him an email last week asking for a “no harm” final, which would have no negative impact on grades.

“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 student wrote, in reference to civil unrest over Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, according to screenshots obtained by the education news site 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 email states. “[It’s] 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,” the email notes.

Klein soon wrote back to decline the student’s request.

“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?“ he wrote, according to an excerpt posted online.

“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? 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 that they’re racist even if they are not,” the email states.

“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 afoul of MLK’s admonition?”

But Klein’s response outraged students, who launched a petition to demand that he be fired. The petition had garnered more than 20,000 signatures by Wednesday afternoon.

“[Klein] mocks the student for asking that he ‘give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota,’” the petition declares.

“We ask for your support in having Professor Klein’s professorship terminated for his extremely insensitive, dismissive, and woefully racist response to his students’ request for empathy and compassion during a time of civil unrest.”

On Tuesday, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management said Klein’s “classes have been reassigned to other faculty” as the professor’s alleged racist conduct is being investigated, according to NBC.

Klein has said he was following the orders of his direct supervisor when he refused the lenient exam model, and that he has only implemented it under extraordinary circumstances, according to the station.

Klein declined to comment outside of confirming his suspension Tuesday, referring The Post to his lawyer.


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