Five weeks after the Undergraduate Assembly passed a resolution demanding that Penn fire Carey Law School professor Amy Wax, the Nominations and Elections Committee is proposing a weaker resolution that demands that she be stripped of her teaching duties.
Some student government leaders said the change made their demands more tangible, acknowledging that Wax's tenured status made her firing unrealistic. The Undergraduate Assembly’s resolution calling on the University to fire Wax has not been submitted to the administration since its passage more than five weeks ago. The resolution was intended to be submitted to the administration after the Oct. 22 UA Steering meeting, but the Steering committee did not vote on the resolution until two weeks later.
During the delay, the Nominations and Elections Committee proposed a new amendment arguing Wax only committed "a minor infraction" and is demanding that the University strip Wax of her teaching duties but not terminate her employment.
Later this week, the UA will seek more collaboration with law student organizations before deciding what resolution to send to Penn administrators.
The NEC proposed an alternate version of the resolution, which passed at the UA Steering meeting on Nov. 5, to demand that Carey Law Dean Ted Ruger strip Wax of her teaching duties, UA Communications Director and College and Wharton sophomore Nikhil Gupta said. UA Steering consists of the UA and representatives from 41 large student organizations.
The NEC amendment diverges from the original language of the resolution, which called on the Board of Trustees to revoke Wax’s tenure and terminate all affiliations between Wax and the University. The provision demanding that the Provost require all faculty to participate in annual sensitivity training sessions was not reworded.
Ruger denounced Wax in July in response to her comments that the view that the United States would be “better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites" deserved more academic attention. Ruger also banned Wax from teaching mandatory first-year law classes after she claimed that she had never seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of their Carey Law class.
The UA unanimously passed the original version of the resolution on Oct. 6 by a vote of 27-0. The resolution was originally intended to be passed at the UA Steering meeting on Oct. 22 and submitted to administration later that day, UA President and College senior Natasha Menon said in October. However, the Steering committee did not vote on the resolution because some of the 41 constituent groups wanted time to consult their members before committing to a vote.
A reworded version of the resolution introduced by the NEC passed at the Nov. 5 meeting, Gupta said. UA Steering meetings are off the record and Gupta could not provide an exact vote count.
The NEC revised the resolution to make the demands more “actionable,” Gupta said.
The NEC changed their rationale for calling for Wax's condemnation in the new resolution. The past resolution cited the University’s Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators and accused Wax of violating Section II.E.16. and committing a “major infraction of University behavioral standards."
In the new version, Wax is alleged to have committed “at the very least, a minor infraction." The wording from that section of the faculty handbook defines a minor infraction as “an action involving disregard of the University’s standards, rules, or mission," which is a punishable offense.
The amended resolution was proposed for a vote at the UA’s Nov. 10 general body meeting, but the vote was delayed to next Sunday's meeting on Nov. 17. The postponement will grant the UA more time to speak with law student organizations before proceeding, UA representative and College senior Elena Hoffman said.
Hoffman said the UA will meet with the Latinx Law Student Association this Friday and will decide what future steps to take. She said that depending on the outcome, either version of the resolution may be submitted to the administration.