A professor at the UCLA who’s of conservative bent accused his department chair of blocking students from taking his popular “Free Speech on Campus” course for political reasons.
The department chair, however, said she’s simply trying to keep “reasonable class sizes” and that she has no political bias against the course, or the professor.
From the College Fix:
“Caught in the middle are frustrated students who simply want to enroll in lecturer Keith Fink’s “Communication Studies 167: Sex, Politics, and Race: Free Speech on Campus.”
“Taryn Jacobson is one such student.
“A senior at UCLA, she told The College Fix she has never been able to take a class with Fink because his courses always fill up so quickly. This quarter, Jacobson said she was absolutely determined to get into Fink’s “Free Speech on Campus” class.
“‘This is one of my last quarters at UCLA and this class is crucial to my preparation for law school,’ Jacobson stated in an email to The Fix. ‘It will also strongly guide my decision (either by affirming or disaffirming) my aspirations to attend.’
“The class filled up quickly, as usual, and Jacobson was once again unable to get in. However, Jacobson said she attended the first class anyway and received a permission-to-enroll form from Fink, also known as a ‘PTE.’ Unfortunately, Jacobson’s PTE was then denied.
“This quarter marks the first time Professor Fink has experienced his department denying his PTEs, and he seems to be getting singled out. Other professors in the Department of Communication Studies report no issues with getting their PTEs approved, according to the Daily Bruin. Fink and his teaching assistants and students lay much of the blame on the new Chair of the Department of Communication Studies, Kerri Johnson.
“‘Ever since this leadership change, the school has targeted Professor Fink and his classes in many ways, including by: (1) restricting his ability to enroll students at his discretion (a restriction not imposed on any other CommStudies professors), (2) reducing the size of his classes and moving them to smaller classrooms despite overwhelming student demand, (3) dishonoring ‘Permission to Enroll’ forms issued by him and failing to help students whose PTEs had been dishonored,’ Andrew Litt, Professor Fink’s TA, stated in an email to The College Fix.”
Another UCLA alumnus and former Fink TA named Austin Kaidi said similarly, telling the College Fix that for five years, the professor’s requests for PTEs have been approved. But one quarter after the new communications studies chair was appointed, and the revokations began, Kaidi said.
Again, from the College Fix:
“When questioned about the denial of Fink’s PTEs, Johnson told The College Fix: ‘As department chair, I am responsible for overseeing workload equity for my faculty, lecturers, and TAs and ensuring a productive learning environment for our students. One important aspect of this responsibility is to maintain reasonable class sizes across the major which entails an assessment of student to faculty and student to TA ratios. Accordingly, I do not approve modifications to enrollment caps unless implications for workload equity have been evaluated. In this case, they were not; petitions to add the class were issued without approval.’
“She added: ‘With regard to the question of political discrimination, I was unaware of Mr. Keith’s political leanings until recently when Mr. Fink referenced them in an email. This exchange occurred long after the events in question.’”