The Michigan State University professor who was relieved of teaching duties after slamming Republicans, Christians and athletes during an offensive classroom rant has at least one defender: the American Association of University Professors.
The AAUP, an organization that defends the interest of university professors, said MSU was wrong to remove William Penn from the classroom on the sole basis of a video recording.
“A video, however apparently conclusive as evidence of offensive statements or disrespect to students, is not an adequate basis for immediate punitive action against a professor,” the AAUP wrote in statement.
The group wasn’t willing to say whether Penn’s rant was classroom-appropriate.
“We do not believe that what we know from the release of the video is sufficient as a basis to conclude that Professor Penn should not continue to receive the protections afforded by academic freedom,” wrote the AAUP.
On the first day of classes, Penn launched into a diatribe against Republicans, calling them rapists and racists. He also criticized Christians and athletes, offending several students.
One student recorded 10 minutes of the rant on his phone and sent it to Campus Reform, where it was published.
Another student who was directly accused of harboring pro-Republican sentiments said Penn had threatened to give bad grades to students who disagreed with him.
“He had said before, ‘You have every right to disagree with me, but it may be reflected in your grade,’” said Caroline Freeman, a student in Penn’s class, in an interview with MLive.
Penn’s behavior upset several members of the board of trustees of MSU, and the professor was quickly relieved of teaching duties for the rest of the semester. He will still make his fully salary of $146, 510, however. (RELATED: Hate-filled anti-Republican prof still earning full salary, also insulted Christians and athletes)
The video, testimony from students, and opinions of the board should not have been enough to indict Penn in the view of the AAUP, however.
Spokespersons for AAUP and MSU did not immediately respond to requests for comment.