Outrage After Tenured White Law Professor Says Her Black Students 'Rarely' Score Well, And Keeps Job

Outrage After Tenured White Law Professor Says Her Black Students 'Rarely' Score Well, And Keeps Job

Amy Wax suggested affirmative action can be demoralizing for minorities in academically rigorous settings.

Published March 15, 2018

A tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania law school will no longer teach required courses after she said she’s rarely had Black students graduate in the top of their class, Penn Law Dean Theodore Ruger said in a statement Wednesday.

Although Amy Wax was removed from first-year curriculum courses, many feel her punishment was not severe enough, considering she will keep her salary and position of seniority.

The professor’s remarks came in a 2017 interview she gave with Brown University professor Glenn Loury on his show called “The Downside to Social Uplift.”

During their conversation, Loury questioned if diversity mandates such as affirmative action could potentially do a disservice to students of color not used to the academic pressures of the institutions they attend. Wax then said she believes Black students who may not be qualified to attend an institution based on merit may feel demoralized if they don’t perform up to standard.

  1. “Here’s a very inconvenient fact, Glenn: 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,” Wax said in the video. “I can think of one or two students who scored in the top half of my required first-year course.”

    Dean Ruger said Wax spoke “disparagingly and inaccurately” when she claimed last year that she had “rarely, rarely” seen a Black student finish in the top of the class. 

  2. In a statement, Dean Ruger refuted Wax’s statements

    “It is imperative for me as dean to state that these claims are false,” he said, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper.

    “Black students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law,” Ruger said. “And contrary to any suggestion otherwise, Black students at Penn Law are extremely successful, both inside and outside the classroom, in the job market, and in their careers.”

    In the video, Wax also claimed that the school’s law review had a diversity mandate, which Ruger said was false.

    “The Law Review does not have a diversity mandate. Rather, its editors are selected based on a competitive process,” he said.

  3. Wax's comments and the lack of punishment she faced outraged many people who petitioned for her removal
  4. Wax once appeared on C-Span, where she talked about disadvantaged students

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: C-SPAN)


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