On Friday, April 14 2023, Ohio Northern University law professor Scott Gerber and his students were shocked and alarmed to see campus security officers, backed up by armed local police, unceremoniously enter the classroom, remove Gerber, and escort him to the Dean’s office. There the professor with 22 years experience, a history of excellent evaluations, and courses filled to capacity was immediately barred from teaching, banished from the ONU campus, and told that if he didn’t sign a separation agreement and release of claims by April 21st, the university would commence dismissal proceedings against him. On what grounds? Insufficient “collegiality.”
The real reason, as Gerber went on to explain in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published a few weeks later, titled “DEI Brings Kafka to My Law School,” was insufficient compliance with the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, to which he had objected publicly and in newspaper op-eds and television interviews.
The mission of DEI, of course, is the implementation of social justice revenge. It has metastasized throughout every institution of society: government agencies, the military, corporations, the legal and medical fields, law enforcement, the entertainment industry, literally every Human Resources department anywhere. But perhaps nowhere is it more deeply entrenched than in the field of higher education, where Critical Theory – the subversive ideology behind DEI – originated and was developed.
It is hardly news anymore that university administrations and faculties skew far left politically and are dominated by a totalitarian degree of wokeness. Lockstep conformity to political correctness is expected or persecution for your lack of “collegiality” will ensue: at best, being ostracized by one’s peers, and at worst, being exiled from a career you trained for, excelled in, and loved. “And more than anything else, I love teaching,” Gerber wrote.
As he details in his WSJ piece, in the week prior to being essentially frog-marched out of his classroom in the middle of a lecture – an outrageously unnecessary measure clearly intended to send an intimidating message to any other professor who might step out of line – he had published an op-ed at The Hill defending Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s “right to have friends – even rich ones,” referring to the Left’s recent attempt to manufacture a corruption scandal involving the black conservative Justice whom the Left considers a race traitor.
The week before that, Gerber gave a TV interview in which he “criticized DEI programs that discriminate against white men in the name of ‘racial and social justice’ and for being indifferent to the type of diversity higher education should value most: viewpoint diversity.” In the week before that, he published op-eds in a national newspaper and in Ohio reiterating his argument.
During a meeting earlier this semester of the University Council, a faculty governance body of which Gerber was vice chairman, he had requested that the school’s DEI program address this issue of viewpoint diversity. The administration replied bluntly that diversity of viewpoints “is not part of our diversity, belonging and inclusion plan.”
And there you have it: diversity of viewpoints, which is the only diversity that should matter, is precisely the kind that is anathema under the racist DEI agenda, which values diversity of skin color and gender identity but uniformity of viewpoints above all else.
ONU has launched an investigation into Gerber but refused to supply him or his lawyers with any specifics. Denied even the basic right to know his purported transgression, He racked his brain “to think of rules I might have broken.” In his Wall Street Journal article, Gerber likened himself to Josef K, the protagonist of Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, a young bank cashier who is arrested one day by emissaries of an unnamed agency, trapped in a surreal judicial nightmare, and ultimately executed without ever even being told the nature of his crime.
“Perhaps decency is a sacrifice ONU is willing to make to grease the wheels of the DEI agenda. It looks like the law is, too,” Gerber lamented. The school is unambiguously guilty of violating his rights. The American Association of University Professors even notified ONU on two separate occasions that “an absence of collegiality ought never, by itself, constitute a basis for non-reappointment, denial of tenure, or dismissal for cause.” Dr. Melissa J. Baumann, President of Ohio Northern University, doubled down on the school’s passive-aggressive silence by informing AAUP that “ONU will not be providing a response.”
A GoFundMe page in his support has been created, and Gerber has secured legal assistance from the Academic Freedom Alliance and letters of support from FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. Harvard Law school professor Randall Kennedy composed a letter signed by more than fifty other professors expecting “a proper resolution of this distressing situation.” On May 18 Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars, sent a fiery letter in defense of Gerber to President Baumann. In it he wrote,
I am appalled by the treatment ONU’s senior administrators have meted out to Professor Gerber. His account published in The Wall Street Journal and the statement issued by FIRE are powerful indictments of the unfairness, callousness, and abuse of process that ONU has exhibited – I would say “in this case,” but in fact there is no case. As far as we on the outside can tell, there was only administrative whim.
What could possibly justify interrupting a professor’s class in order to take him under escort to the dean? In the real world we call this bullying. Then to demand his capitulation on the spot without naming charges or following the university’s written procedures? In the real world we call this contempt and intimidation.
He goes on to urge Baumann to “apologize publicly to Professor Gerber and explain to your board that you made a grave mistake,” though Wood acknowledges that this is “unlikely to happen,” given the unapologetic nature of authoritarian regimes.
Gerber’s story echoes that of many other professors around the country (and elsewhere in the Western world) who have run afoul of the Campus Diversity Gestapo and been summarily cast out of “decent” society as what George Orwell called an “unperson.” This unconscionable bullying, as Peter Wood labeled it, must never be allowed to stand – for the sake of academic freedom, for the sake of viewpoint diversity, for the sake of a civilization that values freedom of thought, due process, and human rights.
Ohio Northern University must reinstate Gerber immediately and make public restitution, including the apology Wood demanded. And every other institution of higher learning around the country must be put on notice that the racist, totalitarian Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion scam must end.
Correction: A previous version of this article said Prof. Gerber secured legal representation from FIRE; in fact, it was from the Academic Freedom Alliance.