A UCLA professor is suing the school after being suspended from his job for refusing to grade black students more leniently than others. The suspension occurred in 2020 after the death of George Floyd. Accounting professor Gordon Klein declined a request to offer a “no harm” final exam for black students, who were supposedly too distraught over the death of Floyd to be expected to perform to the same standards as their white classmates.
Professor refuses easier grading for black students
Professor Gordon Klein claims that his troubles began when a non-black student emailed him shortly after the death of George Floyd to make request on behalf of his black classmates.
Klein suspects that the email itself was derived from a template that the student found online and appropriated, rather than coming from an original idea.
The theme of the email was that black students after the death of George Floyd would suffer mentally and physically from the stress of finals beyond what their classmates might experience.
While other students were to be graded as usual, the email requested that black students be given a “no harm” exam which would only impact their grades if it would have a positive effect on their overall standing in the class.
Klein, who teaches law in addition to accounting and finance, believed that this would be a discriminatory policy and might even violate California law.
He responded to the email by dismissing the idea and pointing out several objections relating to the counterproductive precedents which would be set by offering such treatment to one demographic group.
Lawsuit claims reinstatement isn’t enough
The professor expected this to be the end of the matter but students had other ideas. A petition quickly began to circulate which demanded that Klein be fired.
The Anderson School of Management at UCLA quickly put out an apology and distanced itself from Klein, who was suspended and banned from campus.
Several weeks later he was reinstated but, as the majority of his income was derived from consulting to law firms and corporations, the damage to his reputation had already cost him financially.
The lawsuit argues that the school treated him unjustly for expressing a point of view which ought to have been protected by the law and by the principles of academic freedom.
Klein also points out that lowering academic standards for certain students is dangerous for the nation as a whole.
Setting precedents for lenient treatment of this kind might lead to a future of doctors, lawyers, and engineers who have been given their credentials without being required to live up to the standards that are expected in their fields.