Controversial Penn Law School professor Amy Wax has spoken out for the first time since she was barred from teaching first-year law students.
Wax published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, arguing that the grades of students should not be kept secret. Her column comes slightly over a week after Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger said she would not be allowed to teach a mandatory first-year class after a 2017 video surfaced of her saying that she has never seen "a black student graduate in the top quarter of the [Penn Law School] class and rarely, rarely in the top half."
In an email sent on March 13, Ruger said Wax had "transgressed the policy that student grades are confidential" and "used her access to those Penn Law students who are required to be in her class to further her scholarly ends without students’ permission."
While Wax has faced a flurry of criticism for her comments on black students, some Penn alumni and law professors at other institutions have come to her defense, calling on the University to release data on the performance of students to determine if Wax's claims were inaccurate or not.
Wax seemed to reiterate this call for Penn to release the grades of students in her op-ed, titled "The University of Denial." She argues that grades are good predictors of students' success in their careers, writing that they "represent an objective reality, which exists independent of what people want reality to be."
Wax also seemed to obliquely criticize the University's response to her comments on black students, writing, "Universities, like other institutions, scheme relentlessly to keep such facts from view," and assert that the criticism she has faced has been largely misplaced.
"Another reason measures of academic performance are hard to ignore is that students often expect equality of results and — especially in our identity-conscious world — issue loud demands for equality in group outcomes," Wax wrote in the op-ed. "When that doesn’t happen, frustration and disappointment ensue, followed by charges of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination."
Wax continued to write that "the truth can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, doesn’t always respect our wishes, and sometimes hurts."
Ruger said explicitly in his March 13 email that that Wax's claims are inaccurate.
"[B]lack students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law, and the Law Review does not have a diversity mandate," the email read. "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."
Wax came under fire last August following her controversial op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer that called for a return of "bourgeois" cultural values. Since then she has written several other op-eds about civil discourse and free speech on college campuses.
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