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Michigan Tech professor back in class after Young Americans for Freedom rant


Professor called YAF group ‘racist’ for fake Berlin Wall

A Michigan Technological University professor will return to the classroom this spring despite being reprimanded during the fall semester for comments he made in the classroom about the campus Young Americans for Freedom group.

Professor Carl Blair is set to teach several classes in the upcoming spring semester after facing dismissal from at least one course last fall after he criticized YAF’s mock Berlin Wall display.

During the rant, Blair (pictured) referred to the display as “childish,” “homophobic,” and “racist,” according to an audio recording released by YAF. Despite his comments, Blair is poised to teach at least four courses in the spring.

Michigan Tech’s Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Andrew Storer issued an apology via email to students in Blair’s class for the professor’s conduct, as previously reported by The College Fix. However, it remains unclear whether Storer or any other administrator contacted the YAF chapter directly about the incident.

The Fix inquired with Storer to ask if the university had given Blair or other faculty any guidance on upholding free speech and if school administrators spoke with YAF members about Blair’s behavior.

Storer did not respond to multiple requests for comment sent in the past several weeks.

In the spring, Blair will teach at least four courses including one on European history and another on anthropology, according to the university’s schedule of classes.

Additionally, he will teach a class on the Israel-Hamas war which will “focus on the causes of the current war in Gaza, the potential for the conflict to spread, and how peace can be constructed as a viable alternative,” according to a screenshot of the course’s information page.

The Fix also reached out to Blair to ask if he regretted his comments, if he would do anything differently in the upcoming semester, and whether he was concerned that conservative students may not feel comfortable taking a class with him.

Blair did not respond to two different requests for comment sent in the past several weeks.

A YAF spokesperson told The Fix he is not aware of the university attempting to contact the YAF chapter about Blair’s behavior and stressed the importance of professors upholding the First Amendment rights of students to free speech.

“To our knowledge, the university hasn’t reached out to the YAF chapter about the professor’s actions,” YAF’s Director of Public Relations Michael McGonigle told The Fix in an email.

“No matter their political leaning, professors have an obligation to ensure students can respectfully express their views in class,” McGonigle said.

McGonigle also said that universities receive federal funding and therefore, have a duty to protect freedom of expression.

“Colleges receive federal funding based on the promise they’ll protect free speech,” McGonigle said. “If they fail to do so, should they still be receiving tax dollars while at the same time violating the constitutional rights of conservatives?”

McGonigle’s message to students who might be worried about taking classes with a professor who has had past issues with respecting differing opinions is to assert their beliefs with confidence and get active on campus by engaging with groups like YAF.

He said:

Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. A times, it can feel like you are in the minority or powerless – but the reality is nothing could be further from the truth. Join a group like YAF and learn about how to share your beliefs while gaining access to the resources that help hold those who violate free speech rights accountable. It’s time to take a stand.

The College Fix reached out to the university to ask how many classes Blair was removed from in the fall as well as if the school had provided Blair with any training on how to handle political differences to prepare him for the courses he is teaching this upcoming semester.

The university’s communications director Rick White did not respond to two different requests for comment sent in the past several weeks.

Editor’s note: The article has been updated to say Blair is likely to teach four classes this semester.

MORE: University of Utah threatens YAF for not following unenforced rules

IMAGE: Young America’s Foundation

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About the Author
Jack Applewhite -- University of Georgia