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‘She contacted philosophy department staff, university police and the FBI before Harris was placed on administrative leave.’

When students are contacting the FBI about one of their instructors, it’s a subtle hint that maybe something’s wrong with the instructor.


This is a drip-drip-drip story. We’re starting with information from his students; eventually we’ll work up to his dissertation committee and the administration at Duke University.

[The instructor was] speaking haltingly, changing his syllabus willy-nilly and spending the first four weeks of his “Philosophy of Race” class without once showing his face over Zoom.

Things got weirder as the term progressed, students said, leading up to a final exam that included an essay question about the hate-filled manifesto of Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer whose 2013 shooting rampage killed four people and wounded three others. Students were asked to consider the “oppression, disrespect and loss of dignity” suffered by the homicidal ex-cop.

Margaret Soltan, February 2, 2022 1:33PM
Posted in: professors

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3 Responses to “‘She contacted philosophy department staff, university police and the FBI before Harris was placed on administrative leave.’”

  1. Rita Says:

    It is just mind-boggling to me that this kind of stuff happens (repeatedly!) and the entire class doesn’t just go immediately complain to everyone in admin and/or tweet about it. Not that I’d encourage mass public whining whenever you dislike something a professor does, but it’s just so contrary to everything they’ve come to expect from their professors and everything I’ve come to expect as my own pedagogical obligation to students that I don’t understand how this gets tolerated for more than one or two sessions, no less an entire term, or an entire year! Just wild.

    On the other hand, the university did fire him at the end of the term, so they were responsive, and they seem to have banned him from campus too at that point. You can’t fault them from preventing him from sending threats from another state.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Rita: Two things. I’ve been reading and writing about universities forever, and it still ASTOUNDS me what students will put up with in the classroom. There was the class whose professor, on the first day, told students to write down their social security number and hand it forward to him – and they did it! And he stole their money!

    I mean, bizarre behavior is just Part One. RMP features descriptions of totally irresponsible and insulting behavior on the part of professors, but even so the class continues merrily on to the end of the semester.

    People clearly expect us to be out of it, nuts, to do demented things. The Nutty Professor…


    UCLA doesn’t get off the hook for firing him when they did — not if there were clear signs that they never should have put him in the classroom in the first place. We’ll need to know more before UCLA gets off the hook.

  3. Rita Says:

    Lol, it’s true, I wonder why I’m putting in so much effort when the bar is this low! I could forget to put my pants on and it would probably be fine! I’m sure someone’s even done that by now…

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