Accused of racism and barred from teaching required courses, Richard Peltz, a University of Arkansas law professor, filed a defamation suit. He’s now dropped the suit after the law school cleared him of wrongdoing, reports Inside Higher Education.
Black students and local lawyers began complaining about discussions about race in his constitutional law course “after Peltz participated in a campus debate on affirmative action — at the invitation of the black law students’ group — and argued against it.”
One of the examples of his alleged racial insensitivity was that he used an article on the death of Rosa Parks from The Onion to prompt class discussion. The black students’ memo called The Onion “a conservative based medium that uses satire” and said that the article “poked fun at the contribution Rosa Parks made” to the civil rights movement.
The Onion is not conservative. The Parks article appears to mock “Republicans who think that racial discrimination is all in the past,” writes Inside Higher Ed. Peltz said that’s why he used it.
He also was accused of insensitivity for passing out “a basic grammar worksheet” to the class and telling students to focus more on their writing. Peltz did not single out black students. He was responding to the state Bar’s warning that poor writing was putting law grads at risk of failing the Bar exam.
Universities have let students believe that they’ve been harassed if they hear something in class about race or gender with which they disagree, said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.