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USC Faces Backlash for Punishing Prof Over Word That Sounded Like a Slur in Chinese

USC Faces Backlash for Punishing Prof Over Word That Sounded Like a Slur in Chinese

“scared to death to teach in this environment”

We profiled this case in an earlier post. It sounds like some people have had it with these ridiculous attacks on academic freedom.

The College Fix reports:

USC faces internal revolt for punishing professor who used Chinese word that sounds like n-word

Violations of academic freedom in response to politically incorrect utterances rarely draw widespread attention. If they do, it’s more likely the university will get criticized for not punishing a professor who said something in a pedagogical context that triggered a student.

Greg Patton’s removal from teaching by the University of Southern California, however, became an international incident because it was also an insult to Chinese speakers. Even worse, USC’s Marshall School of Business is now facing an internal revolt among faculty who worry they could be the next scapegoat for perceived racism…

The Marshall School’s Faculty Council surveyed 105 instructors about Dean Geoffrey Garrett’s action against Patton (above) for using a “polarizing example” of a filler word in a class on intercultural business communication.

While USC insists Patton “volunteered” to step down from the class, faculty clearly didn’t see anything voluntary about it.

The Chronicle of Higher Education obtained the Marshall School’s internal report on the incident, which says faculty broadly felt “anger, disappointment, betrayal, and outrage” in response to Patton’s punishment:

But that summary doesn’t do justice to scathing comments from the survey. They provide a portrait of a business school in which professors are now convinced that a single student complaint, even a questionable one, could upend their careers, and that the school’s leadership, as one professor put it, “doesn’t have our back.”

Individual interviews revealed that faculty felt “scared to death to teach in this environment” and “will have to walk on egg shells all the time” so as not to “be accused of being a racist, bigoted, insensitive.” One said USC’s response will “make me even more conservative and guarded than I already am.”


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Anonymous comments do not add up to an “internal revolt.” If anything, they amplify the weakness and cowardice of the faculty.

    artichoke in reply to hawkeyedjb. | September 25, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    Such cowardice is a natural survival instinct that’s bred into us, because those who don’t have it rarely survive to reproduce, either biologically or academically.

    Of course they’ll just go with the ultra approved stuff. I would too. While, behind the scenes, losing all respect for the idiots who punished the guy.

First the other professors said nothing because they agreed with the oppression of other points of view, it now that they themselves are threatened, they are finally, slowly waking up, it it is already too late?

They have sowed the crop; let them eat the bitter harvest.

May I suggest that the student who complained to the Dean:
1) be given a hearing test
2) be given an IQ test
3) be put on probation, subject to expulsion if he ever makes a similar mistake in the future?