University of Pennsylvania Law School students and alumni are calling on the school’s leadership to reprimand a law professor who made disparaging remarks about Black students.
Students and alumni created an online petition asks UPenn Law dean Ted Ruger to take disciplinary action after law professor Amy Wax, argued that Black students rarely graduate at the top of the law program.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the [Penn Law school] class and rarely, rarely in the top half,” Wax said in an interview with Brown University professor Glenn Loury. The video titled, “The Downside to Social Uplift” was filmed in the fall, but recently resurfaced.
“I can think of one or two students who’ve graduated in the top half of my required first-year course,” Wax continued.
When Loury pressed further to quantify her statement, Wax said, “I haven’t done a survey, I haven’t done a systematic study” and alleged that her calculation is based on the “89 to 95 students” students she teaches in a year. Wax claimed she was partial to her claim ” because a lot of this data is a closely guarded secret, as you can imagine.”
The petition urges Ruger to denounce Wax’s statements and declare a path forward which includes removing Wax from teaching first year students and from committees associated with the law school. They also point out that Wax’s comments “compromise,” the school’s grading policy which is supposed to be confidential.
Nick Hall, president of the Black Law Student association and a third-year law student, submitted the following statement to Philadelphia Magazine:
“Amy Wax insinuated demonstrably false and deeply offensive claims about black law students and alumni,” Hall said. “In the end, this story will not be about Amy Wax. She doesn’t need any more of a platform. It will be about the resilience of black Penn Law students to rise against bigotry.”
Hall further stated that the group will refrain from making any further statements until they obtain what they asked for in the petition.
In an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Wax stood by her statements. “I would emphasize that student performance is a matter of fact, not opinion. It is what it is,” she said.
In a previous inflammatory op-ed, she called for America to reverse back to 1950’s social norms—which would eradicate almost 70 years of progress in the areas of civil rights, women’s rights and educational access for students of color.
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