Law Professor Suspended After Responding To Student Complaining About Exam Question
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Last semester, University of Illinois-Chicago law professor Jason Kilborn included on his Civil Procedure II exam a question that included edited references to racial and gender slurs. The question was about a hypothetical case regarding gender and racial employment discrimination.

At one point, the question discussed allegations from a hypothetical employee regarding her treatment at a hypothetical company, saying this employee quit “after she attended a meeting in which other managers expressed their anger at Plaintiff, calling her a ‘n___’ and ‘b___’ [sic].” As The College Fix reported, the question caused a backlash from the Black Law Students Association, which claimed Kilborn’s exam question “shocked students and created a huge distraction from taking the exam.” The BLSA circulated a petition demanding Kilborn be removed as chair of the academic affairs committee “and from all other committee appointments he holds.” The petition was sent to dean Darby Dickerson and Chancellor Michael Amiridis.

The petition, which has more than 400 signatures, also demanded “mandatory cultural sensitivity training and for mandatory courses to be offered by professors ‘without a history of bias,’” the Fix reported.

Kilborn met with a member of the BLSA for a conversation on Zoom after the petition was created. During that conversation, the BLSA member asked the professor when Dickerson hadn’t given the “attack letter” to him. Kilborn allegedly speculated, in jest: “I suspect she’s afraid if I saw the horrible things said about me in that letter I would become homicidal.”

The BLSA member reported this comment to the school’s Behavioral Threat Assessment team, and Kilborn was placed on indefinite leave.

Kilborn, however, believed his suspension was due to the exam question, and even said he was “actively misled into believing my suspension was related to that language,” according to Northwestern University Law Professor Andrew Koppelman, who reported on the story for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Kilborn’s suspension keeps him off campus, away from teaching and “all faculty communications,” Kilborn says.

“I think this is an unfortunate reflection of the state of public debate in our country today,” Kilborn told the Fix in an email.

“Compromise and moderation have been left completely behind in almost all dialogues on any issue today, and this latest episode illustrates the no-holds-barred and take-no-prisoners approach to modern conflict,” he added.

Kilborn is currently under investigation by UIC’s Office for Access and Equity for the exam question, and, according to the Fix, “is currently awaiting ‘a fitness of duty’ mental examination by university medical professionals and a meeting with a social worker.”

Kilborn told the legal blog Above the Law that he had used that same exam question for a decade without issue, but now students claimed they were offended by the question, with one student saying she was “incredibly upset,” and experiencing “heart palpitations” while taking the exam.

Kilborn said that dean Dickerson has the power to ignore recommendations to reinstate him from medical professionals, and he’s not sure whether he will get his job back based on how the school has treated him so far.

“The message, which is being actively discussed on blogs and listservs and in private conversation right now, is that we professors are now almost entirely disabled from challenging our students in the way that higher education needs to challenge future leaders,” Kilborn told the Fix.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Law Professor Suspended After Responding To Student Complaining About Exam Question