The dean of the University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law said he would seek sanctions against tenured law professor Amy Wax over discriminatory remarks she made about the Asian American community.
Wax said early this month that the U.S. is “better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.” Dean Ted Ruger said in a statement Tuesday that he had received multiple complaints since 2017 citing Wax’s behavior as disruptive to students and the school community.
“Professor Amy Wax has repeatedly made derogatory public statements about the characteristics, attitudes, and abilities of a majority of those who study, teach, and work here,” Ruger wrote. “The complaints assert that it is impossible for students to take classes from her without a reasonable belief that they are being treated with discriminatory animus.”
Ruger released a statement on the university’s website two weeks ago condemning Wax’s comments as “thoroughly anti-intellectual and racist.” A spokesperson for the university declined to comment further.
“At this time, as required by the University Handbook, and to preserve the integrity of the process, we will not make any public statements about the charges and proceedings until they have been completed,” the spokesperson said in a statement to NBC News.
It was in an interview last month on the economist Glenn Loury’s website, Bloggingheads.tv, that Wax made her comments about Asians immigrating to the U.S.
“If you go into medical schools, you’ll see that Indians, South Asians are now rising stars. In medicine, they’re sort of the new Jews, I guess, but these diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are poisoning the scientific establishment and the medical establishment now,” said Wax, 69, a tenured professor who is Jewish.
Loury published an email from a listener who criticized Wax’s comments. He also allowed Wax to respond to the listener.
“Maybe it’s just that Democrats love open borders, and Asians want more Asians here,” she wrote. “Perhaps they (and especially their distaff element) are just mesmerized by the feel-good cult of ‘diversity.’ I don’t know the answer. But as long as most Asians support Democrats and help to advance their positions, I think the United States is better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.”
Wax declined to comment on the law school’s statement.
It is not the first time Wax has made headlines for her inflammatory remarks. In 2006, faculty members at Penn Law condemned her stance against same-sex marriage. In a 2017 interview on “The Glenn Show,” Loury’s program on Bloggingheads.tv, Wax said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely in the top half.” Shortly afterward, Wax was barred from teaching first-year law courses.
The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA), a nonprofit organization defending the rights of faculty members at universities and colleges, released a letter this month supporting Wax’s right to free speech.
“I write on behalf of the Academic Freedom Alliance to express our firm view that Professor Wax should suffer no formal consequences as the result of these public statements,” the group wrote. “Regardless of what one thinks about Professor Wax’s personal political views, the only appropriate action that the University of Pennsylvania should take in this situation is to publicly reaffirm the free speech rights of the members of its faculty.”
Penn Law students started a petition this month demanding that the school take action against Wax, citing her “offensive and obviously racist” statements. In a letter, several Philadelphia City Council members asked university President Amy Gutmann to further investigate Wax’s position, saying her comments fuel hateful actions and beliefs against Asian Americans.
“The sweeping, racially-biased assumptions espoused by Professor Wax are not only intellectually dishonest, but feed into dangerous trends of rising animosity and scapegoating of Asian Americans,” the letter said.