UCLA Professor Placed on Leave After Rejecting Special Treatment for Black Students

UCLA Professor Placed on Leave After Rejecting Special Treatment for Black Students
Students participate in an activity near Royce Hall on the campus of the University of California–Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 11, 2020. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Pan

A professor at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is reportedly on leave after he refused to give black students special treatment in their final exams.

Over the past week, nearly 20,000 members of the UCLA community have called on the university to fire Gordon Klein, an accounting professor at the Anderson School of Management. The petition to remove Klein from his position started shortly after an email was shared on social media, in which he rejected a student’s request of special accommodations for black peers, in light of the protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“Do you know the names of the classmates that are black? How can I identify them since we’ve been having online classes only?” Klein wrote in the email, according to the petition, which deemed his responses “insensitive, dismissive, and woefully racist.”

“Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage, such as half black-half Asian?” Klein continued. “What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half?”

Asking if any students in the class were from Minneapolis, Klein said he assumed that “they probably are especially devastated as well,” especially if they’re white, because “some might think that they’re racist even if they are not.”

“One last thing strikes me: Remember that MLK famously said that people should not be evaluated based on the ‘color of their skin,’” he continued, citing the monumental “I Have a Dream” speech. “Do you think that your request would run afoul of MLK’s admonition?”

Kelin is now under investigation and his courses will be handled by other professors for the remainder of the semester, reported student newspaper Daily Burin, citing a statement from Anderson School of Management.

“Respect and equality for all are core principles at UCLA Anderson,” read the statement. “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.”

Earlier this month, the University of Washington (UW) has agreed to students’ demands, encouraging professors to relax final exam policies for black students who are “too busy fighting for their rights to sit down and study.”

At UW, instructors have been asked to be “especially responsive” to the needs of students, particularly those from the black community, and provide them with accommodations such as extra time to finish assignments or a “final examination optional” approach.

“We are asking you to consider that while we are together as a community, some are being affected more than others,” the UW officials wrote in a message to faculties.