UCLA Prof. Placed on Leave After Refusing to Postpone Exams for Black Students

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

UCLA Professor Gordon Klein has been placed on leave after rejecting a request to postpone a final exam for black students in response to the death of George Floyd. Over 20,000 people have signed a petition that calls on UCLA officials to fire Klein. When Klein was asked to postpone black students’ exams, he replied by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “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?”

According to a report by NBC News, UCLA accounting lecturer Gordon Klein has been placed on leave in response to a student campaign that has called for his termination.

Klein, who has been teaching at UCLA for 39 years, earned the ire of some members of the UCLA community when he pushed back against a request to postpone the final examinations in his accounting courses for Black students.

Students and faculty at institutions including UC San Diego have argued that universities and colleges should offer “universal passing” grades to Black students in response to the death of George Floyd.

“Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota,” Klein wrote in an email to students. “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?

“Remember that MLK famously said that people should not be evaluated based on the ‘color of their skin,'” Klein added. “Do you think that your request would run afoul of MLK’s admonition?”

Students published a petition last week in which they called on UCLA to fire Klein over the email. The petition argues that Klein should be terminated because his email violated UCLA’s “holistic” and “inclusive” values.

“We ask for your support now in holding Professor Klein to the same ethical standards he claims to be essential to a holistic and inclusive educational experience, which is what he owes to his students as an educational leader,” the petition reads. “We, the students, refuse to support Gordon Klein any further and demand to see his employment terminated as soon as possible.”

According to the Free Beacon, Klein is under police protection following threats of violence.

Breitbart News reported last week that students at the University of Washington demanded that the university adopt a gentle grading policy for Black students in response to the recent social unrest.

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