News and Commentary

UCLA Professor On Leave After Denying Request That He ‘Give Black Students Special Treatment’ Amid Race Riots
A student walks near Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA on April 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. According to reports, half of recent college graduates with bachelor's degrees are finding themselves underemployed or jobless. (Photo by
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A UCLA lecturer has reportedly been placed on leave after he rejected a student’s request to “give black students special treatment” amid racial protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.

The Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement that Klein’s classes “have been reassigned to other faculty” while his alleged conduct is investigated, NBC News reported.

The lecturer received an email from a group of students requesting the professor allow for a “‘no-harm’ final exam that could only benefit students’ grades, and for shortened exams and extended deadlines for final assignments and projects,” Inside Higher Ed reported last week. The students requested all of these accommodations due to recent “traumas,” explaining that “we have been placed in a position where we must choose between actively supporting our black classmates or focusing on finishing up our spring quarter.”

“We believe that remaining neutral in times of injustice brings power to the oppressor and therefore staying silent is not an option,” the students added.

The students insisted they did not make the request as “a joint effort to get finals canceled for non-black students,” but rather to “ask that you exercise compassion and leniency with black students in our major.”

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

The lecturer also suggested “a white student from [Minneapolis] might be possibly even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not. My [teaching assistant is] from Minneapolis, so if you don’t know, I can probably ask her,” Higher Ed reported.

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

The lecturer rejected the students’ request.

“Klein said he was following the orders of his direct supervisor when he denied the request, saying he has in the past extended or even eliminated final exams under extraordinary circumstances, including when students had to be out of the country,” NBC News reported.

A petition on has drawn more than 20,000 signatures pushing for his firing.

“We ask for your support in having Professor Klein’s professorship terminated for his extremely insensitive, dismissive, and woefully racist response to his students’ request for empathy and compassion during a time of civil unrest,” the petition says.

Klein later said the student who requested the change to the exam was not black. “In 39 years of teaching, there are hundreds of students who can attest that I have given them compassion, encouragement and support,” he said.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, came to Klien’s defense.

“While some may disagree with Klein’s approach, his right to academic freedom encompasses the right to manage the content and direction of his course. Further, his email exchange with the student who proposed an altered schedule and grading policies, with whom Klein had a prior cordial relationship, did not amount to unlawful harassment or discriminatory conduct,” wrote Katlyn Patton, program officer, Individual Rights Defense Program and Public Records.

RELATED: UCLA Students Want Two Professors Fired Because They Didn’t Accommodate Student Feelings

The Daily Wire, headed by bestselling author and popular podcast host Ben Shapiro, is a leading provider of conservative news, cutting through the mainstream media’s rhetoric to provide readers the most important, relevant, and engaging stories of the day. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.

The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  UCLA Professor On Leave After Denying Request That He ‘Give Black Students Special Treatment’ Amid Race Riots