Los Angeles, CA – A University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) professor who was suspended and later reinstated for an email refusing to grade black students more leniently filed a lawsuit on Monday that accused the school of using him as a “publicity stunt” to improve its image.
UCLA Professor Gordon Klein wrote for the substack Common Sense with Bari Weiss that after 40 years of teaching for UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, everything changed on June 2, 2020.
That was the day that Klein received an email from a non-black student in his tax principles and law class asking him to grade black students with more “leniency” than others amidst the civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s death.
Floyd died as he was being arrested by the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020, just eight days before Klein received the emailed request.
“We are writing to express our tremendous concern about the impact that this final exam and project will have on the mental and physical health of our Black classmates,” the student wrote to Klein.
“The unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the life-threatening actions of Amy Cooper and the violent conduct of the [University of California Police Department] have led to fear and anxiety which is further compounded by the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on the Black community,” the email continued. “As we approach finals week, we recognize that these conditions place Black students at an unfair academic disadvantage due to traumatic circumstances out of their control.”
Klein said the student also asked him to grade the final as a “no harm” exam, meaning it only counted if it boosted the grade.
The professor said he thought the request was “deeply patronizing and offensive to the same black students he claimed to care so much about.”
Then he wrote the reply that would spark outrage in the UCLA community and ultimately get him suspended.
“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?” Klein asked the student in his reply.
“Also, do you have any idea if any students are from Minneapolis?” the professor asked. “I assume that they are probably especially devastated as well. I am thinking that a white student from there might possibly be even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not.”
Klein said he cited Martin Luther King’s vision of a colorblind world and made it clear he wouldn’t be treating students any differently based on skin color.
“It’s in the rulebook, grade people based on merit, it’s in the rulebook, never discriminate. I’ve lived my life never discriminating, I was grotesquely offended by the condescending nature of what this student said to me,” Klein told FOX News.
By that night, outraged social justice warriors had taken to social media and launched a petition to get the veteran professor fired.
The petition ultimately garnered more than 20,000 signatures.
Klein said he was labeled “woefully racist” and received death threats that necessitated a police presence outside his home.
A few days later, the university suspended him and Anderson tweeted an apology, Klein told FOX News.
Respect and equality for all are core principles at UCLA Anderson. It is deeply disturbing to learn of this email, which we are investigating. We apologize to the student who received it and to all those who have been as upset and offended by it as we are ourselves.
— UCLA Anderson School of Management (@uclaanderson) June 3, 2020
The longtime accounting professor said that whole thing was an attempt by Anderson to improve its image by outing a racist in its ranks.
“Anderson administrators were rattled, and for good reason,” Klein wrote in the substack. “But not because of the fact that my life was now being threatened. The problem was Anderson’s reputation”
“It hadn’t granted an African-American professor tenure in decades,” he continued. ‘It had but a handful of tenured Latino professors. Black students made up about two percent of the student body. And men outnumbered women roughly two-to-one, leading many students to call Anderson the MANderson School of MANagement.”
The professor said Anderson tried to make an example out of him to distract from their bigger issues.
“They decided they’ve got a horrible reputation for racism, bias, and instability within the school of management where I teach, and so they decided that they’d make an example out of me to rehabilitate their own reputation as a publicity stunt, and that’s all it was,” Klein told FOX News.
Klein said he was reinstated a few weeks later because he had done nothing wrong, but the harm that was done to his reputation in that short period was massive.
Although he retained his tenured position at UCLA, Klein claimed in the lawsuit filed on Oct. 18 that numerous consulting jobs with law firms and other corporations, Newsweek reported.
He said he lost the bulk of his income when clients cancelled consulting agreements after seeing the vicious publicity that tarnished his reputation.
Klein is suing UCLA and the Anderson School of Management dean, Antonio Bernardo, for breach of contract, violating his privacy, and retaliatory discrimination, Newsweek reported.
Court documents show that the professor alleged he “suffered severe emotional distress, trauma, and physical ailments for which he has been treated by his primary care physician, a gastrointestinal physician, and a psychiatrist” as a result of the suspension and ensuing media circus.
He told FOX News the situation was ironic, given that he was an instructor of ethics and law at the university.
“The irony is they hired me to teach law and ethics to students and guess what? I’m now going to teach them a lesson in law and ethics,” Klein vowed.