Penn Law dean: Prof’s comments were ‘bigoted’

Amy Wax teaches a class at the University of Pennsylvania.

Amy Wax teaches a class at the University of Pennsylvania. (Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania)

This story originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.

The dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School issued a statement Tuesday, condemning a professor’s assertion that America “will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.”

Professor Amy Wax’s comments “espouse a bigoted theory of white cultural and ethnic supremacy; at worst, they are racist,” Ted Ruger wrote in a statement on the law school’s website. “Under any framing, such views are repugnant to the core values and institutional practices of both Penn Law and the University of Pennsylvania.”

Wax made her comments, which were first reported by Vox, while she spoke on a panel last week at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C.

She said immigrants “are too loud” and responsible for an increase in litter.

“Conservatives need a realistic approach to immigration that … preserves the United States as a Western and First World nation,” Vox quoted her saying on the panel. “We are better off if we are dominated numerically … by people from the First World, from the West, than by people who are from less advanced countries.”

She said her position is not racist because her problem with nonwhite immigrants is cultural, rather than racial.

Alumni reacted quickly, calling for the university to fire Wax, or at least condemn her remarks.

That might be, in part, because the comments were not the first racist comments Wax has made publicly.

In a video interview from 2017 that surfaced last year, Wax told Brown University professor Glen Loury, “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. I can think of two students that have scored in the top half of my required first-year course.”

The statement was disputed by Ruger, who later disallowed Wax from teaching first-year law students.

Ruger said in his statement Tuesday that these “episodes” have made it clear that “when Professor Wax speaks about race and culture, she does not speak for this institution or those who work and study here.”

Ruger continued: “I know these statements by Professor Wax have caused pain and outrage to many in the Penn community. My colleagues and I pledge to work with you so that together we can heal, and learn from this experience and each other.”

The law school has made efforts to attract and support diverse faculty and students, and will continue to do so, he said.

“For instance, since 2016 we have hired 10 extraordinary tenured or tenure-track professors, half of whom are people of color and more than half are women,” he said. “On the student front, when we welcome the incoming JD Class of 2022 and LLM Class of 2020, we will have the most diverse and accomplished student body in the history of the Law School.”

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