Guest Editorial: Penn law professor Amy Wax should be fired

“America will be better off with more Whites and fewer nonwhites.”

Immigrants “are too loud” and are responsible for an increase in litter.

“Conservatives need a realistic approach to immigration that … preserves the United States as a Western and First World nation.”

“We are better off if we are dominated numerically … by people from the First World, from the West, than by people who are from less advanced countries.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely in the top half. I can think of two students that have scored in the top half of my required first-year course.”

The immigration of “Asian elites” to the United States is problematic because of their support of the Democratic Party.

The above comments did not come from the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis or some other White supremacist organization.

They are some of the racist remarks of Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most elite universities in the United States. The cited comments were made between 2018 and 2021.

Wax and her supporters say she is just exercising her freedom of speech. They argue that the tenured professor is protected and should be allowed intellectual freedom to discuss controversial topics that may offend.

But Wax is not engaging in an academic debate. Her comments do not pretend to engage in the intellectual rigor expected from a professor.

Wax is using her position, power and influence as a professor of a prestigious university to launch unrelenting racist attacks on nonwhites.

Tenure doesn’t mean professors can say whatever they want without being held accountable.

Wax has repeatedly made wild conjectures as facts without supporting evidence. She has deliberately and repeatedly used known falsehoods. She has repeatedly expressed unwarranted maliciousness toward groups of people.

In a 12-page letter to the school’s Faculty Senate by law school Dean Ted Ruger, he has requested that the Senate levy a “major sanction” against Wax.

In the June 23 letter, Ruger said “Wax has repeatedly used the platform she was granted when she became a professor … to disparage immigrants, people of color, and women, including law students, alumni and faculty.”

The letter states that “although imposing sanctions on a faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania is a ‘rare event,’” Wax’s conduct deserves a “major sanction against her.” A major sanction means that Wax could be suspended or fired.

“I am initiating this disciplinary action because for several years and in multiple instances Wax has shown a callous and flagrant disregard for our University community—including students, faculty, and staff—who have been repeatedly subjected to Wax’s intentional and incessant racist, sexist, xenophobic and homophobic actions and statements,” Ruger wrote. “Wax’s conduct inflicts harm on them and the institution and undermines the University’s core values. Wax has made these statements in the classroom and on campus, in other academic settings, and in public forums in which she was identified as a University of Pennsylvania professor. Her statements are antithetical to the University’s mission to foster a diverse and inclusive community and have led students and faculty to reasonably believe they will be subjected to discriminatory animus if they come into contact with her. That eminently reasonable concern has led students to conclude that they cannot take Wax’s classes and faculty to call her presence demoralizing and disruptive.

“Wax has disseminated false information about segments of the University community. She has exploited access to students’ confidential grade information and mischaracterized Law School policies in ostensible support of derogatory and inaccurate statements made about the characteristics, attitudes and abilities of her students.”

Ruger said that the derogatory statements could cause Wax’s students to feel unfairly judged against their White peers.

“Her conduct is antithetical to the University’s core mission to attract a diverse student body to an inclusive educational environment,” the letter stated.

In March 2018, after making derogatory and false comments about no Black law students ever graduating at the top of their class, Ruger stripped Wax of her duties teaching curriculum courses to first-year students. Her response since then has been to double down on making racists remarks.

While the University of Pennsylvania upholds the principle of academic freedom as fundamental to its core mission, that freedom comes with profound responsibility. The university must balance academic freedom with its duty to students, the wider university and community and the need to consistently apply its codes of conduct with consistency and integrity.

Wax does not meet the standards of behavior expected from Penn’s staff. The university should move to sanction and then terminate her employment.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)

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