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Professor Who Questioned Student's Request Reinstated

September 16, 2020
 
 

The University of California, Los Angeles, reinstated a lecturer in accounting it suspended this summer over his email to a student seeking a low-stakes final exam for the class, especially Black students, in light of the protests for racial justice. The lecturer, Gordon Klein, responded to the student via email, “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 who “may be of mixed parentage, such as half Black-half Asian?” Klein continued. “What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half?” At the time, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management said it was looking into Klein’s “offensive” comments, and that “respect and equality for all are core principles at UCLA Anderson.”

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Anderson said that Klein returned to work in late June and “continues with his regular duties. Due to confidentiality and privacy laws and concerns, we are unable to comment further on this matter at this time.” The university has “general procedures and principles that uphold freedom of expression and freedom of intellectual inquiry, while also being committed to creating a learning, working and living environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, or retaliation,” it also said.

Katlyn Patton, program officer at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocated for Klein during his mandatory leave, said in a statement, “We’re happy to confirm that Gordon Klein is teaching once again, and hope that in the future UCLA will consider its constitutional obligations before throwing educators out of the classroom.” UCLA investigated Klein’s “‘tone’ in an attempt to quell public backlash,” Patton said. “But regardless of how many people demand his firing, UCLA cannot justify using that anger to erode Gordon’s rights.”

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