Our Professor’s Views Are Vile, University Says. But We Can’t Fire Him.


On campus on Friday, students were still talking about the controversy, even as many packed up for a week of vacation that runs through Thanksgiving. Selena Drake, a senior studying law and public policy, said she understood that speech needed to be protected, but argued that the provost’s denunciation did little to protect students.

“Her expressing her concerns doesn’t really do anything for us,” said Ms. Drake, 22. She said Professor Rasmusen’s public posts alone were enough to make his classroom a hostile environment for female, gay and black students.

The provost agreed, and said the university had altered its policies to allow students to transfer out of Professor Rasmusen’s class and ensure that no one will have to take it to satisfy degree requirements. The university will also make Professor Rasmusen grade student assignments without knowing whose they are, in an attempt to dispel fears that his “expressed biases would infect his perceptions of their work.”

If a student reads the professor’s opinions “and has effectively been told, ‘You don’t belong here,’ I don’t want those students to have to take a course from this man,” Professor Robel said, adding that she did not want students to feel forced to carry “an unfair backpack of bigotry into a classroom.”

Professor Rasmusen has been responding to criticism — and posting letters of support — on his website, and he wrote in an email that while he does not hide his Christianity, he believes that in economics classes, students and professors should set aside their “moral objectives” in favor of trying to maximize social welfare. He also said the provost had attributed beliefs to him that he does not hold.

As of Thursday night, the business school was not aware of any complaints filed against Professor Rasmusen for his behavior in class, the provost said, but she and other university officials encouraged former students or colleagues to come forward if they believed they had been discriminated against. Professor Rasmusen’s views have brought criticism before, most notably in 2003 when the university removed his blog from its servers after he made incendiary comments about gay men.

But outrage swelled this week when Michaela Okland, who runs the popular Twitter account SheRatesDogs, posted images of the professor’s tweets after a student shared them with her. The post has been seen more than 2.5 million times.


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