UCLA communications professor Keith Fink—a rare conservative lecturer on the radical, left-wing campus—bravely took the university’s top administrators to task for immediately tearing down posters exposing the connections between the anti-Israel hate group Students for Justice in Palestine and the terror group Hamas while allowing a brazenly anti-Semitic cartoon in the campus paper to pass without comment.
Fink, who does not have tenure, appeared Tuesday night on Tucker Carlson’s program on the Fox News channel to accuse UCLA administrators of blocking students from enrolling in his course, “Sex, Politics, and Race: Free Speech on Campus,” because his views deviate from the standard leftist fare typically served up on campus. According to a former teaching assistant of Fink’s, the room assigned for his course holds 292 seats, yet the newly-appointed chair of the Communications Department, Kerri Johnson, only allowed 200 students to enroll. Forty-one additional students were turned away and refused permission to join the class, despite Fink’s willingness to undertake the additional workload of teaching them.
Johnson denied that her refusal to let additional students take Fink’s class was related to his political views, telling The College Fix that “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.”
In his appearance on Tucker Carlson, Fink immediately shot down Johnson’s claims as specious, stating “I’m happy to teach hundreds of students, the bigger class you give me, the happier I am to teach as many as can sit in a room.”
Fink believes that UCLA’s top administrators may be hindering enrollment in his classes because he is unafraid to criticize the University’s dismal record on free speech.
He told Carlson:
I use UCLA quite often as concrete examples in applying these principles…they continuously and consistently trample students’ rights and we can go over some recent examples…
There was an SJP and MSA, two student organizations on campus. There were posters linking them to Hamas. Now the university again came out and criticized these posters as being hateful, offensive, and if students were found involved, they would be brought up on conduct code charges. Again…that violates the First Amendment. UCLA has a viewpoint discriminatory application of its own policies….
Last week in the Daily Bruin there was an anti-Semitic cartoon of the worst sort. It was a standard anti-Semitic trope with Netanyahu with a big nose. And it had the Ten Commandments in the background, ‘Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not murder,’ implying that Israel will murder to achieve itself, not a word from the administration. How is this instance with the cartoon any different than with the poster? It isn’t, it’s just not consistent with their narrative!
While the administration may not have commented on the cartoon, the Daily Bruin elected to remove it from its website, stating “Running this cartoon was an error that we deeply regret.”
Asked by Carlson why at UCLA—home to one of the nation’s top law schools—administrators are apparently unaware of the constitutional pitfalls of restricting free speech on a public university campus, Fink charged that these same administrators are knowingly violating the law:
This is even more maddening. The culprits really are Dean [Jerry] Kang, Dean [Laura] Gomez, who are both lawyers, and Chancellor [Gene] Block…they absolutely know the law. But they abuse the law and these 18-year-olds don’t know the law…they abuse the law, they twist the law, they send out these… emails which either chill speech that they don’t like or they actually punish students that run afoul of these types of policies, that don’t conform to their liberal ideology.
Thankfully for UCLA’s students, Professor Fink does know the law. It’s a shame only a limited number of them will be allowed to hear him teach it.
Sara Dogan is the National Campus Director for the David Horowitz Freedom Center.