Photo Credit: UCLA Anderson online brochure / Google Maps
University of California Los Angeles accounting professor Gordon Klein next to the UCLA campus

University of California Los Angeles accounting professor Gordon Klein has been suspended by the Anderson School of Management where he has been teaching since 1981, because in response to an email from African American students who asked him to “give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota,”

Klein emailed back:

“Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota. 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? Also, do you have any idea if any students are from Minneapolis? I assume that they probably are especially devastated as well. I am thinking that a white student from there might be possibly even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not. My TA is from Minneapolis, so if you don’t know, I can probably ask her. Can you guide me on how you think I should achieve a ‘no-harm’ outcome since our sole course grade is from a final exam only? One last thing strikes me: 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? Thanks, G. Klein.”

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OK, so the aging professor kind of gave it to his students, because, of course, their request was outrageous. Inside Higher Ed reported that screenshots of the email exchange show that the group of students asked Klein for a “no-harm” final exam, shortened exams, and extended deadlines for final assignments and projects. The students said that in light of the “traumas, 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.”

What ensued was way beyond a sane response to a professor’s denial of a request for special treatment. It turned into a crusade to destroy the livelihood and possibly the life of the accounting professor. As of Tuesday, 19,964 individuals signed an online petition to “Fire UCLA Professor Gordon Klein.” He was suspended by the school which assigned all his courses to a fellow professor, and, as The Washington Free Beacon reported on Tuesday, he is now living under police protection, having faced threats of violence.

A spokesperson for the school told Inside Higher Ed: “Respect and equality for all are core principles at UCLA Anderson. It is deeply disturbing to learn of this email, which we are investigating. We apologize to the student who received it and to all those who have been as upset and offended by it as we are ourselves.”

Prof. Klein’s online reviews by his students offer an image of an educator who does not suffer fools. Alas, it appears that in modern day academia one is surrounded by mostly fools:

Submitted Feb. 8, 2002:

“Dope professor. Say what you will about the material / exams / humor, but pretty much everything he teaches comes from a real-life experience. This makes Mgmt 108 one of the very few UCLA courses that can be directly applied to real life. He is pretty funny (though I am easy to please) and makes it seem like he actually gives a crap about what he is teaching, which is refreshing. I would recommend this course for anybody who is interested in business law.

“The exams were a bit tough, but I like situations given are realistic and require you to apply your knowledge to solve the problem. I am a major slacker, never bought the book, but went to every class and paid attention between doodling. I studied an hour a night for 3 nights before the exams and ended up with a B (which I feel I deserve).”

Submitted Dec. 11, 2001:

“Prof. Klein teaches a lot of useful stuff beyond just the final. things you can apply to your life. BUT his tests are HARD, and can get tricky.”

Submitted Oct. 27, 2004:

“Professor Klein is the worst. His exams didn’t have much correlation with his lectures and the book. His lecturing style is all over the place and doesn’t seem to lecture fully on a topic. His office hours at at ridiculous hours (like at 8am) and he does not reply to your e-mails. He does not give partial credit and grades extremely harshly. There are much better management professors out there. Whatever you do, avoid Klein.”

Submitted July 1, 2019:

“I absolutely fell in love with the material and I feel Klein was very good in elaborating on what he was teaching. His examples were spot on and translated very easily to the midterm and the final. I personally found his class to be easy, though my friends found it extremely difficult and suffered, I think it depends if you are compatible with his teaching style. You will NEED the course reader, so definitely get that.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.