Professor Sues UCLA After Refusing To Grade Black Students’ Work Differently

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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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UCLA accounting professor Gordon Klein, who was briefly suspended in June 2020 after refusing to grade black students more leniently than the rest of his class, is suing the University of California system for damages.

Klein described a culture of fear among UCLA professors in an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller.

“[Professors] are becoming more like robots … They avoid anything that may be controversial or colorful or humorous … Anyone who goes anywhere near a controversial topic runs the risk of being cancelled, being fired, being suspended,” he said. (RELATED: Professor Resigns In Open Letter Because His College Transformed ‘Into A Social Justice Factory’)

A student asked Klein to make the final exam a “no harm” exam for black students the week after George Floyd’s death in June 2020, according to Klein’s recent Substack post, meaning that the grade would only count if it helped a student’s final grade.

Klein replied, “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?”

Students began calling for the professor’s firing and Klein was suspended and banned from campus three days later. He was then reinstated within three weeks. (RELATED: University Of Cincinnati Doesn’t Renew Contract For Professor Who Called COVID-19 ‘Chinese Virus’ In Email)

Klein claims that his suspension was a publicity stunt to distract from UCLA’s “reputation as an inhospitable place for persons of color.” UCLA had not granted tenure to a black professor in decades and had only a handful of tenured Latino professors, according to Klein.

The Dean of Students for UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, Antonio Bernardo, sent frequent emails to UCLA professors regarding racial issues, according to Klein. “I can’t remember one that simply talked about how [Bernardo] is improving students’ education or controlling their tuition costs,” Klein said.

One of Bernardo’s numerous public memos encourages Anderson School of Management staff to read a Black Lives Matter article, which, among other things, encourages readers to “Consider the words of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors-Brignac: ‘If you were willing to say #AbolishIce. I need you to be willing to say #DefundThePolice. Full stop.’”

“The dean seems to believe he is a racial justice crusader as opposed to someone in charge of giving people an objective and elite education,” Klein told the Caller.

“The purpose first and foremost of a dean is to run a fine educational institution and maintain its elite status. In that regard, by any subjective or objective measure, he has horrifically failed,” Klein said.

The Daily Caller reached out to Bernardo for comment and a UCLA spokesperson explained that, due to privacy laws they “are not able to comment on this matter at this time.”

Many of Klein’s consulting clients severed their professional relationships upon learning of his suspension, costing him a large portion of his annual income, he said. His legal clients in particular could not risk their cases being indirectly impacted by the controversy of Klein’s public suspension.

Many top lawyers declined to represent Klein in his case against UCLA for fear of being targets of secondary boycotts over their affiliation with Klein, he said, because the lawyers could lose relationships with major corporate clients.

Klein stated that many of his colleagues have cut off contact with him. He suspects this is due to fear of repercussions from UCLA for expressing friendship with Klein.

“For all my years [at UCLA] and all the friends I have there, only one individual reached out to me [to express solidarity], and he’s retired, so he apparently perceived that there’s nothing they could do to him.”

The case’s progress has been slow due to COVID-related court closures. UCLA’s retaliation against Klein continues, and those facts will be shared more fully at trial, he stated.

Klein says he is fighting not just for himself, but for his colleagues and students, who fear speaking their minds inside and outside the classroom.

“We are prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court,” Klein told the Caller.