A professor who ranted to students that all Republicans are racists and had “raped” the country has been put on a kind of paid leave, though his school is being careful to say he is not being suspended.
In August, Professor William S. Penn, a literature professor for Michigan State University (MSU), opened his first class for the semester with a tirade against Republicans and conservatives that the school now admits was “offensive.” During the eight-minute, secretly recorded rampage, he is even seen even yelling at an individual student who appeared offended by the anti-Republican comments.
“This country still is full of closet racists,” Penn yelled to students. “What do you think is going on in South Carolina and North Carolina. Voter suppression. Its about getting black people not to vote. Why? Because black people tend to vote Democratic. Why would Republicans want to do it? Because Republicans are not a majority in this country anymore. They are a bunch of dead white people. Or dying white people.”
Penn’s attacks were secretly recorded by a student and soon became a national story and source of embarrassment for MSU. The university ultimately bowed to pressure and had Penn removed from the classroom.
In an email to the student body, Karen Wurst, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters, apologized to students for Penn’s “inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive” comments and announced that his classes have been reassigned to another professor.
“On Aug. 29, during your Literatures, Cultures, Identities course, Professor William Penn made comments he has acknowledged were inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive and may have negatively affected the learning environment,” Dean Wurst wrote. “Once MSU was made aware of the situation the Office of the Provost immediately began a review.”
“As a result, Penn’s duties have been reassigned, and he will not be teaching this semester,” the Dean added. “A new instructor is being assigned to your course.”
Dean Wurst went on to claim that Professor Penn wanted to apologize if he offended anyone.
The Dean’s email left some doubt as to just what the school planned to do to Penn beyond the current semester.
Because of that vagueness, Campus Reform asked MSU to clarify the professor’s status. MSU spokesman Jason Cody replied that Penn “has not been suspended.”
“His employment status has not changed; his teaching duties have been reassigned,” Cody said.
Professor Penn has been given light punishment. He will retain his $146,510 salary, as well as all his benefits. He seems merely to have received a semester-long vacation, as all his duties have been assigned to others.