Ethics Observations On UCLA’s Endorsement Of Race-Based Grading

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.”

Ethics Observations:

  • 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

10 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On UCLA’s Endorsement Of Race-Based Grading

  1. UCLA is acknowledging its part in the creation of this systemic racism for believing students of color are unable to perform at the level of whites during trying times . So is Preet Baines who made it known that he or she cannot compete because of race.

  2. The email response might have been a bit dismissive, but it certainly wasn’t insensitive or racist. Actually, it probably wasn’t dismissive, either. The professor addressed the question by asking a series of questions in return to spur thought and probably further discussion. Now it’s going to be better for us to simply delete these emails and pretend like we never received them – or in other ways completely avoid responding to any inquiry whatsoever – than to try to respond honestly. Everything has become a ridiculous racist trap.

    Person 1 – Do you want to go get a cup of coffee?
    Person 2 – Thanks for the offer, but I have too much to do today. Rain check?
    Person 1 – Racist!!!

    Greg Gutfeld has said it many times, and I agree: When you destroy the ability to talk and debate issues in a civil manner, all that is left is violence.

  3. “Ma’am, your husband was in pretty bad shape when they brought him in, but the good news is his surgery was very successful.”

    “Thank goodness! He’s going to be okay?”

    “No, he died on the operating table. But the surgeon was out late last night protesting, and he comes from an impoverished family, and he only has one hand, so we consider it a very successful surgery on the whole.”

  4. A while back, my son gave me (as a joke) a pack of large erasers with things like “Injustice”, “Racism”, and “Cruelty”, etc. printed on each side. The idea, we took it, was that you were to be symbolically erasing some sort of harm when using them. The ironic physical reality, of course, is that a user is actually employing the very thing clearly noted and understood to be undesirable, to attempt some sort of correction. Is that a great metaphor, or what?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.