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Professor Suspended for Exam Wording Sues U of Ill. Chicago

January 28, 2022

Jason Kilborn, a professor of law at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is suing the institution for alleged violations of his First Amendment rights. UIC suspended and investigated Kilborn last year following complaints that he used two redacted slurs in questions on a 2020 exam. He says the university first said he would not have to take sensitivity training in response to the incident but that it later backtracked and told him to complete months-long “training on classroom conversations that address racism.” Kilborn says UIC is also forcing him to write reflection papers before he can return to the classroom, and that some of his training materials include one of the redacted slurs that he was faulted for using on his exam. UIC’s inquiry led to additional complaints that Kilborn had used racially insensitive language in classroom discussions, but Kilborn denies making some comments and says others were misinterpreted.

Kilborn is receiving legal assistance from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Faculty Legal Defense Fund network. “The only thing that will hold UIC accountable for its unconstitutional actions is a lawsuit,” Kilborn said in a statement. “FIRE’s Faculty Legal Defense Fund gave me the strong medicine of real legal action, and UIC has given me no choice but to use it.”

The university did not respond to a request for comment.

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