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Controversial Penn Law Professor Amy Wax appears next on cancel culture chopping block

An administrative sanctions probe into controversial University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Professor Amy Wax reaches its six-month mark as June arrives, and some observers speculate the tenured scholar may soon be fired.

Wax, who has taught at Penn for two-plus decades, has made several comments that have prompted numerous calls for her termination.

It started with an op-ed in 2017 in which she praised bourgeois values.

Next, she stated black law student performance at Penn is mediocre. In 2018, Wax was removed from teaching mandatory courses for first-year students after she said “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the [law school] class, and rarely, rarely in the top half.”

Her warnings about America’s “Asian elite” and her comment that the country would “be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites” also led to more controversy.

In an interview with Tucker Carlson in January of this year she said there “is just a tremendous amount of resentment and shame of non-western peoples against western peoples for western peoples’ outsized achievements and contributions.”

Professors Robert Maranto and Wilfred Reilly cowrote a May 6 piece for RealClearEducation in which they “predict that in the coming months, on one pretext or another, Penn’s ‘massive’ bureaucracy will fire Professor Wax, not for poor performance but for stating beliefs that millions of Americans share but fear to say.”

Even Wax has called herself “roadkill … a casualty in the culture wars” in an interview with Professor Gad Saad in late January. It was at that time that Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger had announced officials would aggregate all the complaints lodged about her to enforce some sort of sanctions against the professor.

“Her conduct has generated multiple complaints from members of our community, citing the impact of pervasive and recurring vitriol and promotion of white supremacy as cumulative and increasing,” Ruger stated. “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.”

Penn media affairs did not respond to repeated requests from The College Fix seeking comment on the status of the investigation and whether Wax is slated to teach this fall. She is currently not listed as teaching a summer 2022 law course.

Wax did not respond to a request for comment from The College Fix.

In mid-April, Penn officials stated they continue to work to address Wax’s “escalating conduct” but could not comment further.

A January 2022 open letter against Wax supported by 2,500 Penn Law students, alumni, Penn undergrads and faculty from other schools argued that “Wax’s continued bigoted statements against female, Black, Asian, and LGBTQ+ students egregiously violate the University’s Principles of Responsible Conduct.”

“Wax’s statements are not ‘fair and principled,’ nor can her repeated racist statements be considered nondiscriminatory … Further, her academic work also may violate the University’s Behavioral standards by mischaracterizing sources, cherry picking quotes, and making unsupported, uncited controversial statements of facts, which may violate the [faculty handbook].”

In response to Penn’s probe into Wax, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education argued that universities must address discriminatory conduct.

“But holding or espousing offensive views is not the same as acting on them, and student discomfort or speculation that they will not get a fair shake cannot serve as a justification to punish otherwise protected extramural speech,” FIRE stated.

Professors Maranto and Reilly argued in their May RCE piece that instead of firing Wax, she should be debated.

“The First Amendment offers a better way. We challenge Professor Wax to debate whether demographic diversity makes America stronger or weaker,” they wrote. “Let’s beat bad ideas with persuasion – not coercion. That may not be the University of Pennsylvania way, but it is the American way.”

According to the Daily Pennsylvanian, Wax had said in her interview with Saad she was not going to resign “without a fight.”

“My case is on some level not about me,” Wax said. “I’m just roadkill, I’m a casualty in the culture wars. What I see being said and done with respect to me is truly alarming. It is a total repudiation of the very concept of academic freedom.”

“They’ve been trying to fire me for years and they’re still trying. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.”

MORE: Princeton debate club disinvited conservative Prof. Amy Wax from event dedicated to free speech

IMAGE: Greg Piper / For The College Fix

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About the Author
Charlotte Hazard -- Liberty University