Saturday, May 27, 2017

L'affaire Fink

The issue of lecturer Keith Fink's continued employment at UCLA has been simmering for some time, and tended to be picked up in conservative media as well as the Daily Bruin. Fink, a lawyer who teaches part-time in Communication Studies, has been involved in lawsuits involving high-profile Hollywood celebrities as well as the now-defunct American Apparel. Students have been protesting on his behalf. The story now appears in the LA Daily News:

Students and supporters of a UCLA adjunct professor are protesting what they say is pressure the university is putting on him because of his outspoken conservative politics. Keith Fink, a lawyer, has taught classes on free speech, contemporary issues, entertainment law and other subjects at UCLA for 10 years. He and student supporters said he may be dismissed from the school because administrators disagree with his views and practices, such as holding seminars on students’ rights and interviews he gave on Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” about his charge that UCLA is blocking students from taking his popular free speech course.

“The administration doesn’t like what I have to say,” Fink said by phone Friday. “I also support students’ basic rights to due process and the school doesn’t like that. ... I show the students how their rights are violated. ... I don’t believe in trigger warnings. I don’t walk on eggshells. I don’t believe in safe spaces. I run against that current.”

Fink, an adjunct professor at the university, said a recent shift in the leadership of the Communication Studies department, where he teaches, has led to pressure on him. He is undergoing a review process that he said could result in his dismissal and which UCLA said is routine for lecturers who have completed 18 quarters of teaching at the school. Fink said he didn’t accept a salary in his first years of teaching at UCLA, which is why, administrators told him, the review is taking place now rather than several years ago.

About 25 students and supporters, carrying signs saying “Free speech is under attack” and “Keep your agenda out of our classroom,” gathered Friday on campus before bringing a list of demands to Laura Gómez, interim dean of UCLA College Division of Social Sciences which oversees the Communication Studies department, who wasn’t in her office when they delivered their list. Among the demands: that Fink be allowed to keep teaching and that the school implement curriculums “that increase intellectual tolerance” on campus.

Mick Mathis, a senior at UCLA, said pressure on Fink is about curtailing free speech.

“This is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, and it’s not a marketplace of ideas if they’re trying to get rid of somebody with a contradictory viewpoint,” Mathis said.


Two earlier stories are in the Bruin:

...Several students in Fink’s class said they think Fink is being treated unfairly because he criticizes the administration. For instance, Fink has questioned Title IX officials’ qualifications and criticized the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion...

...Dozens of UCLA students are frustrated with their inability to enroll in a communication studies class this quarter, despite receiving a permission-to-enroll number from their instructor. Keith Fink, a lecturer in the communication studies department, said his PTE numbers were not honored this quarter for Communication Studies 167: “Sex, Politics and Race: Free Speech on Campus.” He said he gave 41 paper and electronic PTE numbers total to students who attended his first class Jan. 11. The next day, he received several emails from students who were unenrolled from the course by the UCLA Registrar’s Office. He said the department does not agree with his conservative ideology and wants to restrict him from informing students of their rights. This is the first time he has been unable to enroll students with electronic and paper PTE numbers in a decade of teaching at UCLA...

1 comment:

Nobody-nowhere said...

Hmm. These grading plots may help explain why he is so popular. Nothing less than an A-.