Woke witch hunt: Students demand firing of University of Illinois law professor over things he didn't say

Like all of these stories of woke excess, this one really leaves you shaking your head at the university officials and administrators who insist on taking this nonsense seriously. This particular case took place at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s law school where Jason Kilborn is a professor. Last December Kilborn put a question on one of his exams which read as follows:

After she was fired from her job, Plaintiff sued Employer under federal civil rights law, claiming employment discrimination on the basis of her race and gender. Employer also revealed that one of Plaintiff’s former managers might have damaging information about the case, but no one at Employer knew where that former manager was, since she had abruptly quit her job at Employer several months ago and had not been heard from since. With nothing to go on but the manager’s name, Employer’s lawyer pieced together several scraps of information and concluded that this former manager must be located in a remote area of northern Wisconsin. Employer’s lawyer spent $25,000 to hire a private investigator, who successfully located the former manager in northern Wisconsin. Employer’s lawyer traveled to meet the manager, who stated that she quit her job at Employer after she attended a meeting in which other managers expressed their anger at Plaintiff, calling her a “n____” and “b____” (profane expressions for African Americans and women) and vowed to get rid of her.

There’s a bit more but this is the exact wording of the question as it appeared on the test. The offensive words were not spelled out and were only reference by a single letter. But students from the Black Students Law Association (BSLA) complained that some students had been shocked by this “inexcusable” language on an exam. One student told the BLSA she was “completely flustered” by the question and another claimed she experienced “heart palpitations.” If you read the letter, you’ll see the BLSA itself referred extensively to the “n-word” which is essentially the same approach that Prof. Kilborn took on his test question.

Professor Kilborn was suspended from teaching in the spring and it was initially believed he’d been suspended over the test question. But according to Professor Kilborn he eventually learned there was another reason. During a 4-hour zoom call with one of the BLSA members who he had offended, he made an offhand comment:

On Thursday, January 7, I voluntarily agreed to talk to one of the Black Law Students Association members who had advanced this petition against me. Around hour 1 or 1.5 of a 4-hour Zoom call that I endured from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm with this young man, he asked me to speculate as to why the dean had not sent me BLSA’s attack letter, and I flippantly responded, “I suspect she’s afraid if I saw the horrible things said about me in that letter I would become homicidal.” Conversation continued without a hitch for 2.5 or 3 more hours, and we concluded amicably with a promise to talk more later.

He apparently turned around and reported that I was a homicidal threat. Our university’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Team convened, with no evidence of who I am at all, and recommended to my dean that I be placed on administrative leave and barred from campus.

The BLSA reported all of this to the school’s Office for Access and Equity (OAE). In February the OAE sent Kilborn a notice that he was being investigated for racial discrimination and harassment. In addition to the test question and the comment about being homicidal someone had claimed he’d referred to racial minorities as “cockroaches.” No date or time was given for when he allegedly said this and Prof. Kilborn said it never happened.

As the “cockroaches” claim became the main focus of his opponents outrage, Kilborn eventually learned when this had allegedly happened and got a recording of his lecture from that day:

The discussion in which Kilborn used the word took place on January 23, 2020, nearly a year before the exam that started the trouble. That date was revealed to Kilborn for the first time in the findings letter, and he only recently obtained the school’s recording of that class. In that discussion, he tried to get the students to place themselves in the unfamiliar mind-set of defendant-company directors making a cost-benefit assessment of settling what they considered frivolous litigation to avoid expensive discovery. A student asked him whether it would be better for those directors to defend such lawsuits and collect victories, thereby deterring future litigation. Kilborn replied:

The fact that other plaintiffs see that one other plaintiff lost isn’t a disincentive. If it were, frivolous litigation would have ended long ago, because lots of plaintiffs have been pushed to the wall and lost. You don’t hear about those stories in the media. You hear about idiot people winning $1-million verdict against Subway for having 11.5″-long sandwiches. That’s what makes the press, right, that Subway lost. Not that they win against this ridiculously frivolous case. That wasn’t in the media, only in the legal media, maybe, if you were paying attention. And that’s the problem. If they win, no one hears about this. They only hear about it if they lose, and God forbid that, then all the cockroaches come out of the walls, they’re thinking, right?

As you can see, there’s nothing in that statement about minorities. Nevertheless, the campaign to oust Kilborn continues to gain steam. Earlier this month, Rev. Jesse Jackson joined a rally held by the school’s BSLA:

The UIC law students allege a professor “called (students) racial slurs and labeled them ‘cockroaches.’”

“Students deserve an environment that’s not hostile,” Jackson said at the rally, speaking softly. “We must act; we will act.”

There’s no evidence Prof. Kilborn directed any inappropriate language at a student or group of students. And yet the woke crusade keeps on rolling almost a year later. It’s almost as if the facts don’t really matter.


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