LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A longtime UCLA professor has been placed on leave after facing backlash over his response to a student’s request to postpone the final exam for African American students, considering the impact of George Floyd’s death.

For complete coverage of the situation in Minneapolis visit CBSMinnesota.com and stream CBSN Minnesota.

Gordon Klein received the email on June 2, and rejected the request, stating the following, according to a change.org petition calling for his termination:

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? 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. 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 afoul of MLK’s admonition? Thanks, G. Klein

Klein is on leave until June 24 as school officials decide how to move forward.

An on-campus advocacy group and a counterpetition are calling for UCLA to reinstate Klein and for him to be issued 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,” Katlyn Patton of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote in a letter to UCLA officials Wednesday. “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.”

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where Klein has taught since 1981, said Klein’s classes have been assigned to other faculty, saying the following in a statement on Wednesday:

“The lecturer is on leave from campus and his classes have been reassigned to other faculty. Due to confidentiality and privacy laws and concerns, we are unable to comment further on this matter at this time.”

“That said, UCLA and UCLA Anderson are committed to creating a learning, working and living environment that is free from discrimination, harassment or retaliation.”

“To this end, all reports of such conduct are carefully and impartially reviewed. The Discrimination Prevention Office and Title IX Office process all such claims in accordance with published procedures that protect both the integrity of the investigation and the due process interests of all parties. These offices take every report seriously while ensuring that no case is prejudged. To promote transparency, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion also publishes annual public reports with aggregated data on complaints, investigations and findings.”

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
Comments (25)
  1. I know that these students are thinking that they are helping their black classmates, but have they even considered the long-term outcome of such initiatives? Employers will be loathe to hire black graduates because they will assume that they have not been placed under the same rigors as their white and Asian counterparts. A black degree will be a second class degree because some smarmy white kid decides that blacks shouldn’t be held to the same standards. If black lives really mattered to them, they would see the folly of their suggestion.

  2. Jack L McCutcheon says:

    So, they were all too scared to answer any of the man’s questions?

  3. Stanley. L Mellik says:

    I am black, but I don’t believe that this request has any merit or appropriate. Whoever initiated this request for whatever reason should have considered its negative impact on the concerned students.

  4. Yahse says:

    I’m a color-filled person and I think his response was very logical and appropriate. Many people have involved themselves out of guilt, fear, or desire to fit in, in this isolated situation. Division of such that was requested would only perpetuate racism, giving “special” privileges to one group vs. others. People are too sensitive and quick to hurl terms like “racism,” at people and it enables real dialogue between persons, and instead promotes superficialities.

  5. Rich says:

    Woo – boy, these students should be happy with the way things are. My degree in Public Accounting was earned over 40 years ago, and I had the same professor for my last 3 years, and 30+ semester hours of accounting.

    He gave two tests, a midterm and final, consisting of five essay questions…no multiple choice questions. On at least two questions, sometimes three, the first sentence of the answer was “based on the information you’ve given me, I cannot answer this question.” Of course, you had to explain why. He was such a demanding grader, that a 90 out of 150 possible points would earn you a B+ on the test.

    One other thing: he never used numbers, focusing on the theory of the topic at hand. Was he effective? Put it this way, I passed the CPA exam 15 years after graduating from college (I was in the Army, and pursued a different career after the Army before returning to the field).

    The great man’s name was Dr. Daniel Brajcich, the university is Gonzaga University.

  6. Adam says:

    The initial email requesting a postponement was made by a white student

    1. JC says:

      And it matters that the person requesting it is white…WHY?

  7. rushncap says:

    This is EFFED up. He better get reinstated with a full apology and then some.

  8. david says:

    However snarkily phrased the professor’s comments are, the problem for these outraged students is that he raises perfectly valid points.

    You really have to feel sorry for teachers who have to deal with a generation that has more privilege and entitlement than any human that has ever walked the earth, and feel the burning need to exercise it every hour, on the hour.

  9. Polycarp says:

    Yet another display of spineless school officials throwing their employees to the wolves. All this will do is embolden this kind of childish behavior and the viscous cycle will return. We once again see students running university programs instead of the officials who get paid to do so. This is a the United States and no one can force students to sign up and stay enrolled. If they want to drop a class than do so. It is not the professors responsibility to teach grown adults not to behave like children.

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