Students from the University of California Los Angeles are protesting what they believe is an attack on free speech, as more pressure is placed upon conservative professor Keith Fink to resign from his role. A lawyer and lecturer on contemporary issues and free speech, Fink has worked at UCLA for a decade. His student supporters are claiming that he may be dismissed from his work because school administrators disagree with his conservative beliefs and activism.
An exclusive report from The Daily Wire earlier in May reported that the university may be attempting to remove the professor from his position. The report explained how Fink was struggling to pass excellence reviews, which are methods of tracking the performance of professors by choosing faculty members to perform reviews. He believed that the Communications Department has purposely made it difficult to Fink to succeed during the process. The same report included emails from Kerri Johnson, the chair of the Communications Department, which show her reprimanding the professor.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Daily News by telephone, Fink said that the school administration doesn’t like what he has to say. He also explained how he supports the basic rights of all students to due process, and that he doesn’t believe the school likes that. He believes this is relevant as, during his lectures, he shows his students how their rights are being violated. The professor also refuses to “walk on eggshells” or use trigger warnings.
Fink is an adjunct processor, and he claims that a shift to the left in the administrators of the department of Communication Studies has seen unfair pressure placed upon him. He is currently under review, which could potentially result in his dismissal once it is complete. UCLA says that this process is routine for its staff who have worked for 18 quarters at the college. During his first few years of teaching at UCLA, Fink did not take a salary – and for this reason, he says, the review is taking place many years later than he expected.
A Protest by Students
On Friday, May 26, 25 supporters and students gathered outside the campus to support Fink. The crowd carried signs that claimed free speech is under attack, and others that tell leftists to keep their politics out of the classroom. The protest then moved to the office of the UCLA College Division Dean Laura Gomez to deliver a list of signatures that called on the university to allow Fink to keep his job. The petition also demanded that the school introduce a new curriculum that is designed to improve intellectual tolerance within the school.
Fink also claims that UCLA has reduced the size of one of his most popular classes from 300 to 200.
A senior from UCLA by the name of Mick Mathis joined in the support for Fink, claiming that the pressure being placed on Fink is politically motivated. He claimed that the university will no longer be a marketplace of ideas if Fink is removed from his position because of his political views.
The Official Response
UCLA spokesperson Rebecca Kendall, in response to the protests, released an official statement. In it, Kendall claimed that the school has never curtailed the content that is being taught during Fink’s classes. She also said that Fink is protected by an agreement between his union, the American Federation of Teachers, and the school. She reiterated that the process of review at UCLA is both faith and comprehensive, and that Fink has been afforded due process and fair considerations throughout the review procedure.