To a student who had apparently displayed displeasure with those comments, Professor Penn barked, “You can frown if you want.” He gesticulated toward the student and added, “You look like you’re frowning. Are you frowning?” When the professor’s conduct was brought to the attention of campus authorities, MSU spokesman Kent Cassella said, “At MSU it is important the classroom environment is conducive to a free exchange of ideas and is respectful of the opinions of others.”
That mealy-mouthed response is typical of university administrators. Professor Penn was using his classroom to proselytize students. That is academic dishonesty and warrants serious disciplinary or dismissal proceedings. But that’s not likely.
Professor Penn’s vision is probably shared by his colleagues, seeing as he was the recipient of MSU’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 2003. University of Southern California professor Darry Sragow shares Penn’s opinion. Last fall, he went on a rant, telling his students that Republicans are “stupid and racist” and “the last vestige of angry old white people.”
UCLA’s new academic year saw its undergraduate student government fighting for constitutional rights by unanimously passing a resolution calling for the end of the use of the phrase “illegal immigrant.” The resolution states, “The racially derogatory I-word endangers basic human rights including the presumption of innocence and the right to due process guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.” No doubt some UCLA administrators and professors bereft of thinking skills helped them craft the resolution.