Editors’ note: At the end of the 1960s at UCLA, the Black Panthers and the US organization battled for control of the new Black Studies program. In time, Chicano Studies, Women’s Studies, and Queer Studies also gained official recognition. Through the 1970s and 1980s, the University of California system rejected academically-qualified students and accepted others based on race and ethnicity. In 1996, voters responded with the California Civil Rights Initiative, which banned racial and ethnic preferences in state education, employment and contracting.
Twenty years later, UCLA’s Vice Chancellor for Equity Diversity and Inclusion is a specialist in “implicit bias” theory but shows a distinct preference for politically correct groups of the Left. Meanwhile, professors of a certain ethnicity and conservative political profile are ostracized for championing free speech. Even their staff and student supporters come under fire.
Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden won ten NCAA national championships, including a record seven in a row. As a student at UCLA, Keith Fink was something of an academic John Wooden, winning three national debating championships. After earning a law degree, Fink returned to the campus in 2008 as a professor, in the same department as his college debate coach Thomas Miller. Fink became popular with students, with good reason.
Jewish students Negeen Arasteh and Shahab Naimi, for example, sought out Fink’s classes because he is “one of the best teachers at UCLA.” Students of all backgrounds and disciplines packed classes such as “Sex, Politics and Race: Free Speech on Campus.” In all his classes, Fink championed what he calls “fundamental American values,” such as free speech and due process. Politically correct campus bosses didn’t like it.
As professor Fink told Frontpage last year, “They are all afraid of a vocal, rational intelligent conservative who can provide a check on the progressive narrative they seek to indoctrinate the students with and empowers the students with knowledge of their rights on how to fight against the UC when their rights are being violated.” Jerry Kang, UCLA Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and his commissars responded by slapping restrictions on Fink’s class sizes.
The point person for that was communications department chair Kerri Johnson, whose research includes “How/why does the way that we move our bodies communicate whether we are a man or a woman, gay/lesbian or heterosexual, angry or sad?” UCLA also lists Kerri Johnson in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Studies department, and she is co-author of “Swagger, sway and sexuality: Judging sexual orientation from body motion and morphology,” not exactly high-level scholarship.
Fourth-year student Taryn Jacobson, headed for law school, signed up for Fink’s class on “Sex, Politics and Race: Free Speech on Campus” because the professor “had so much knowledge to offer.” Campus bosses had a problem with the course, as Sarah Brown of the Chronicle of Higher Education noted in “Why Did a UCLA Instructor With a Popular Free-Speech Course Lose His Job?”
As Fink saw it, Johnson abruptly limited the size of his course to 200 students, down from 250, and moved the class to a smaller room. Johnson denied doing so, and said she wasn’t involved in moving the course to a smaller room. Johnson did not say who authorized the move or the motive for downsizing Fink’s class.
“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,” wrote Evolet Chiu in a Daily Bruin piece titled “Communication studies lecturer claims restrictions on class enrollment.” Johnson did not address students’ enrollment difficulties for the Bruin or the Chronicle, which did deal with what Fink regarded as a rigged review process.
Because of attempts to reduce his class size, Fink sought to exclude Johnson and interim Social Sciences dean Laura E. Gómez from the evaluation, which Fink charged was “riddled with lies and misrepresentations.” One student called Fink’s class the best he had taken at UCLA and the department’s final report gave a favorable view of his teaching effectiveness. Faculty members wondered about the “climate fostered in the classroom.”
The nine voting faculty deadlocked, with three in support of an “excellent” review, three voting “not excellent,” and three abstaining. Interim dean Gómez made the final call against Fink. Department vice chair Greg Bryant told the Chronicle it was all “handled by the book,” but there was room for reasonable doubt.
In his evaluation of Fink’s “Free Speech on Campus” class, Bryant noted that Fink was critical of a letter by UCLA Vice Chancellor Diversity and Inclusion Jerry Kang to Title IX officers on campus. Bryant claimed this showed a lack of balance, while Fink cited the intolerant culture on campus.
“UCLA pays lip service to the notions of academic freedom and viewpoint diversity,” he told the Chronicle, “But there’s an implied understanding among the school’s leaders that this really only applies if your views align with theirs.”
In a Daily Bruin piece headlined “Students Must Speak Up in Defense of Professor Fink,” student Daniel Tran wrote, “Fink has inspired me to care about my legal rights and helped me learn from my peers. His Socratic teaching style fosters a classroom environment where all viewpoints are welcome and all students have a voice. There is no doubt in my mind that Fink is an excellent professor.” “Still, UCLA’s popular professor and three-time national debate champion found himself short on official support.
“I have received NONE from any administrator at UCLA,” Fink told Frontpage. “Not a single administrator has reached out to me to discuss my issues either regarding the rigged and biased review conducted of me or the trampling of the rights of my students. And I know every administrator is aware of what is going on with me.”
Those administrators included UCLA Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Jerry Kang, so swift to support those who backed Students for Justice in Palestine and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement for any discomfort a poster might have caused. In his letter targeting “outside provocateur” David Horowitz, Kang described his job as “to build equity for all, and to make sure that there is an equal learning and working environment for everyone, regardless of political or religious affiliation.”
None of that concern showed up in the campaign against UCLA professor Keith Fink. As he saw it, “progressive UCLA is attempting to purge a rational, intelligent conservative who fights progressive indoctrination and empowers students to know their rights.” For their part, many students stood up for the embattled conservative.
They circulated an open letter, “Keep Professor Fink AT UCLA,” noting the possible consequences: “Professor Fink is by all outward measures one of UCLA’s greatest, most popular, and influential professors. If the school ignores our plea and continues to endorse the corrupt dealings in the Department of Communication Studies, they will not only lose one of their most valuable and influential professors but also repel thousands of donors (current and future alike) from supporting this institution.”
By all indications, this had no effect on UC administrators in general and Jerry Kang in particular. In July 2017, UCLA opted to purge the conservative Fink, but that wasn’t enough for UCLA’s Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In the best Stalinist style, those who had supported Fink now found a target on their own backs.
Editor’s Note: See below two videos of Keith Fink’s latest speech in which he gives an exposé of Kang’s fraud on the public. Part I is a short clip of the speech that deals with Kang’s cover-up. Part II is the whole speech exposing Kang and his department.