Politics

POC students call for racist University of Pennsylvania professor Amy Wax to be held accountable

The comments came on two separate occasions: once during an interview on The Glenn Show, and in another incident during an interview with Tucker Carlson.


Listen to Berkeley Law professor Ian Haney López discuss how Democrats can talk about race on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast


“That Wax has been permitted to teach, supervise, and ridicule minority law students for over twenty one years is alarming,” the letter said. “Few understand how much more burdensome law school is for students who continuously receive the message that they are ‘less than’ or do not belong.”

Amid her racist comments, students even called into question whether her grading of students of color has been fair in the last two decades at the university. In the letter, students demanded she not only be held accountable but investigations into her actions be transparent to students.

“It’s a bit scary thinking about the impact that she’s had teaching at Penn for so long,” Dillon Yang, president of the National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and a second-year law student at Notre Dame University, told NBC News. “Professors are supposed to teach the law in a neutral way, in ways that law students can form their own thoughts about the law. But clearly she doesn’t hide what she truly feels about the different minority groups in America. It’s hard for me to believe that it wouldn’t shine through in a classroom setting.”

What’s worse is that Wax defended the bigotry she has perpetuated in another interview with Gad Saad in January.

“My case is on some level not about me. I’m just roadkill, I’m a casualty in the culture wars,” Wax told Saad. Saad’s YouTube channel has more than 230,000 subscribers.

“What I see being said and done with respect to me is truly alarming. It is a total repudiation of the very concept of academic freedom.”

Over the last year, multiple students from other universities have expressed how harmful Wax’s comments have been to students.

“She was using verbiage from the late 1800s or early 1900s, speaking about students as ‘the Blacks,’” said Richard Garzola, chair of NBLSA and a second-year law student at Georgetown University. “I wonder, when is that cloud of tenure going to stop protecting folks at legal institutions?”

The different organizations told NBC News they released the letter in order to put pressure on Penn to take more action than they have.

“As descendants of enslaved ancestors, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and persons holding multiple identities among these, we reject Amy Wax’s hateful rhetoric that we and our communities are dangerous, inferior, do not belong, have made fewer contributions, and are inherently less able to utilize the law because of our skin colors or heritages,” the letter read. “Minority law students belong in the spaces they occupy.”

According to the law school’s website, Wax is currently teaching two courses but has been removed from teaching a mandatory first-year course. At this time, Wax is facing a faculty senate review that could result in sanctions against her. However, her being protected by tenure has made it difficult for the university to blatantly let her go.

“The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School has previously made clear that Professor Wax’s views do not reflect our values or practices,” said Meredith Rovine, a spokesperson for the law school. “In January 2022, Dean Ruger announced that he would move forward with a University Faculty Senate process to address Professor Wax’s escalating conduct, and that process is underway.”




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