It would be tempting to label UCLA an Ethics Dunce after it suspended a lecturer at its Anderson School Of Management for mocking the idea of grading black students more leniently in light of the George Floyd protests. That, however, would understate the deceitful Orwellian reasoning going on now in several sectors of society, including higher education, journalism, and politics.
The UCLA Anderson School of Management has pulled accounting lecturer Gordon Klein from his classes because of his email response to a student who asked for “special treatment” for black students. Klein has been teaching at UCLA for almost 40 years.
The email Klein sent read,
Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota [George Floyd’s death at the hand of police].
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? What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half?
Also, do you have any idea if any students are from Minneapolis? I assume that they probably are especially devastated as well. I am thinking that a white student from there might possibly be even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not. My [teaching assistant] is from Minneapolis, so if you don’t know, I can probably ask her.
Can you guide me on how you think I should achieve a “no-harm” outcome since our sole course grade is from a final exam only?
One last thing strikes me: Remember that MLK famously said that people should not be evaluated based on “the color of their skin.” Do you think that your request would run afoul of MLK’s admonition?
This sparked a petition, created by UCLA student Preet Bains, calling the email “extremely insensitive, dismissive, and woefully racist,” and demanding that Klein be fired. In turn, UCLA removed the teacher, saying in a statement that “Respect and equality for all are core principles at UCLA Anderson. We apologize to the student who received [the email] and to all those who have been as upset and offended by it as we are ourselves.” Another administrator told a student that Klein’s message was “inexcusable.”
- The manifest dishonesty—it rises to the level of gaslighting, really—of claiming that opposing race-based grading is racist should bother anybody and everybody. The fact that so many nod their heads and say, “Makes sense to me!” is a sign of approaching cultural senility.
- Similarly, if the proposed solution to “systemic racism” is to install a different kind of systemic racism—and I think this is exactly what is being proposed—that cynical approach exposes the corruption of the protests, the protesters, and their supporters.
- Adding to the irony (and the stupidity) is that a policy of grading blacks more leniently than whites—the weak rationalizations employed to justify it don’t matter—will contribute to the current systemic racism, making the academic credentials of African Americans intrinsically questionable while simultaneously increasing racial resentment by students placed at a competitive disadvantage by virtue of their paler skin. Good plan!
- Klein’s email was undiplomatic, and I would not criticize a school for warning him to be a little less brutal in his interaction with students of any race. That email essentially said, “You’re an idiot.” (It may not surprise you to learn that I have sent similar emails in the past in official capacities, and suffered for it.) However, blunt though it was, his arguments were all good ones, and the student’s request had no validity.
- It appears that UCLA, like so many other institutions and businesses, is putting its metaphorical head down and engaging in an official grovel, saying nothing of substance and abandoning basic ethics and common sense for the duration, while being willing to sacrifice innocent parties like Klein as collateral damage. They are assuming that some well-timed, vague rhetoric and symbolic capitulations will suffice until everything blows over, as it has in the past. The rationalization in play: #31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”
My final observation is this. College and graduate school are supposed to prepare students for life. In the real world, personal crises, stresses and passions do not excuse individuals from the obligation of fulfilling responsibilities and duties, nor reduce the standards that will be applied to their performance. Nor should they. Applying reduced expectations to individuals, never mind a whole group of individuals, because they have distractions in their lives can be expected to damage their character and prospects for success by creating a dangerously false expectation of reality.
Source: College Fix