A professor at the University of California in Los Angeles has been suspended and placed under police protection after he rejected his non-black students’ appeals for him to be lenient with his black students.
Gordon Klein, an accounting professor in the Anderson School of Business, where he has been teaching for 39 years, was suspended by the university for three weeks beginning on June 25.
The Malibu Police Department reportedly has an increased police presence outside Klein’s home after multiple threats, which were made after a student, Emilia Martinez, posted an email exchange online.
A petition to have Klein removed has gained almost 20,000 signatures.
The petition seeks Klein’s firing as a result of his ‘extremely insensitive, dismissive, and woefully racist response to his students’ request for empathy and compassion during a time of civil unrest.’
The story began when a group of students, who described themselves as ‘non-black allies’ of their black peers, wrote to Klein asking for him to effectively cancel the final exams for black students.
They requested a ‘no-harm’ final exam that could only benefit students’ grades, and for shortened exams and extended deadlines for final assignments and projects.
The students wrote that, in light of recent ‘traumas, we have been placed in a position where we much choose between actively supporting our black classmates or focusing on finishing up our spring quarter’.
Klein wrote back and declined their request, composing an email that some students felt was mocking them.
‘Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota,’ he wrote.
‘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?
The dean of Anderson School of Business, Antonio Bernardo, agreed with Martinez.
He sent an email to students on Monday calling Klein’s behavior ‘troubling’.
He has also reportedly extended the time students have to complete exams given the ‘difficult circumstances’.