Penn Law seeks to sanction professor who said US would be ‘better off’ with fewer Asians

Students walk between classes in front of College Hall on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller

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  • Full professor Amy Wax has also come under fire for her statements about black law students
  • Sanctioning Wax would violate principles of academic freedom, some say

(Reuters) – The dean of the Carey School of Law at the University of Pennsylvania said on Tuesday he would pursue sanctions against law professor Amy Wax following her latest inflammatory public statements about race and immigration .

Following a podcast she recorded with Glenn Loury, a social science professor at Brown University, Wax wrote on Loury’s website this month: “As long as most Asians support Democrats and help advance their positions, I think the United States is better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.

In a message to the school, Dean of Law Ted Ruger said he had received complaints since 2017 that Wax’s comments were detrimental to students’ educational experience. He said he was initiating university proceedings to sanction Wax, which could involve a hearing committee appointed by the president of the faculty senate.

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“Professor Amy Wax has repeatedly made derogatory public statements about the characteristics, attitudes and abilities of the majority of those who study, teach and work here, Ruger wrote.

Wax did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

In 2018, the law school banned Wax from teaching required first-year classes after she said in a podcast that she had never seen a graduating black law student in the top quarter of the class, and rarely. in the upper half. However, Ruger has always said Wax couldn’t be fired because she was a starter.

Penn law students circulated a petition calling on the school to take action against Wax, citing his “offensive and blatantly racist” statements, and a number of Philadelphia board members this month called on the university president Amy Gutmann to launch a “comprehensive review” of her. position.

Ruger’s message did not specify any penalties Wax could face, and a law school spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The university’s faculty governance rules state that major sanctions may include dismissal, suspension, reduction in base salary, or no salary increase.

Some campus free speech groups have said sanctioning Wax would violate principles of academic freedom.

“The only appropriate action the University of Pennsylvania should take in this situation is to publicly reaffirm the free speech rights of its faculty members,” wrote the Academic Freedom Alliance, a national group of faculty. universities and colleges, in a January 1 article. 16 letter to Gutmann.

The nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) also came to Wax’s defense.

“Predictions that a faculty member’s opinions mean they will treat a student differently are not enough to justify the erosion of speech rights,” FIRE attorney Adam Steinbaugh said Tuesday in a statement.

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Karen Sloane

Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools and legal affairs. Contact her at [email protected]

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