More on Amy Wax and Penn Law School

An op-ed I wrote in the Philadelphia InquirerLearn more about the scandal surrounding Professor Amy Wax of the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School. More information about this controversy can be found here.

I am focusing on whether or not there should exist a hate speech exemption to academic freedom protections and tenure protections. People who called for Penn’s firing for Wax’s comments on Glenn Loury have been emphasizing that hate speech is not protected. This assertion seems just as misguided as the one made in relation to the First Amendment. Here’s what I noticed:

In order to expel professors who are not popular, it’s easy to make a hate speech exception from academic freedom. A student complained about Wax’s inability to make students feel comfortable and heard. Another student asked for changes to tenure rules so that tenured professors follow the “principles for social equity.” However, such claims could be repeated in an endless manner. College Republicans declared in 2020 that they were not welcome on campus as a result of anti-MAGA tweets by a history professor. Measures that are opposed to critical race theories have their sponsors. They argue that critical-race theory professors create a hostile environment for students of color. If the academic freedom principles of academic freedom are modified to allow professor Wax to leave the classroom, Wax won’t be the only one who is walked out onto the street.

You can read the entire article here.

Editors at the receive a special bonus: Get in touchThey wanted to find a different position that would pair well with mine so they borrowed a piece by Apratim Vidyarthi, a Penn third-year law student. You can find the piece here, which argues that Wax is unable to fulfill her faculty duties. Vidyarthi has accepted to argue that “we already draw a boundary as to what speech can be acceptable.” However, interestingly, Vidyarthi’s examples for speech that is clearly unacceptable and could lead to a professor losing her job are examples that fall under the traditional academic freedom principles. The Holocaust is not being denied by professors You can find it hereThey have been protected under those principles as long as such views are expressed in private in the form extramural speech.

Amy Wax also has the following: Business InsiderA report has been prepared on Wax’s behaviour on campus, including students inside and outside the classroom. These allegations, however, are a completely different story. Wax, if proven to be true, would find herself in an even more dangerous position. She could not seek refuge under academic freedom protections. Penn should make it clear that the investigation won’t be focused solely on Wax’s protected extramural speech, but on her work conduct. These allegations should be investigated by Penn in good faith and with care. Wax should also have the opportunity to respond.