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Embattled Ivy League professor Amy Wax alleges school is attempting to ‘punish’ her for Conservative speech


Daily Caller News Foundation

  • University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax alleges that the school is not adhering to free speech standards and is targeting her due to her conservative beliefs.
  • Wax has made controversial statements over the years, which the university has claimed have created a “hostile campus environment,” and the administration is attempting to sanction her.
  • “Penn has zero interest in developing and adhering to principles of a consistent position on free expression, zero interest,” Wax told the DCNF.

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) law professor Amy Wax alleged that the university does not adhere to free speech standards and is targeting her because of the scholar’s conservative beliefs, she told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview.

Wax has made several controversial statements outside of the classroom, and the university has claimed that her speech created “a hostile campus environment.” Former UPenn President Liz Magill signed off on sanctions against Wax, which Wax said was an attempt to sanction her for extramural speech, which is speech outside the classroom, and said that the school is “flagrantly in violation of the principles of academic freedom.”

“Penn has zero interest in developing and adhering to principles of a consistent position on free expression, zero interest. They can protect the people they basically agree with or favor, like the pro-Palestinians, anti-Israeli, antisemitic, and they can punish people like me. They have never articulated a consistent position,” Wax told the DCNF.

“Everybody says after October 7, universities are on the run, they’re going to change the way they do things or after the affirmative action case, they’re going to change the way they do things. I don’t see any evidence of that. I hear people doubling down on their conviction that everything they’re doing is right and good,” Wax continued.

Universities are dominated by left-wing professors, with one 2018 review of over 60 top colleges in the U.S. revealing that the professoriate is over ten to one Democratic to Republican. Wax pointed to the left-wing dominance of the universities as a reason she was being targeted for her more conservative speech, while radical left-wing speech had largely gone unquestioned.

As recently as 2015, UPenn awarded Wax with the school’s top teaching prize, the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, according to a UPenn news article. “Cancel culture really started accelerating around, I think, around 2015, 2016,” Wax told the DCNF.

The Penn Law Council of Student Representatives held a student body meeting with then-UPenn Law School Dean Theodore Ruger in September 2019 to discuss “issues regarding Professor Amy Wax,” according to an email obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a free speech legal organization.

“The objections to me had nothing really to do with the quality of my teaching. It had to do with my openly expressing views and opinions and discussing facts that were forbidden and deviated from this very narrow catechism,” Wax told the DCNF. Wax said that many of the ideas and thoughts she had expressed were discussed in mainstream conservative circles but are forbidden at universities.

Wax previously made controversial statements, including saying that America should let fewer Asians immigrate to the country due to their “indifference to liberty,” and that different racial “groups have different levels of ability” and that unequal outcomes are “not due to racism,” according to a June 2023 UPenn memo obtained by The Washington Free Beacon. She also said that diversity, equity and inclusion officers “couldn’t be scholars if their life depended on it,” and that they are “true believer bureaucrats.”

“People are afraid now to express a lot of this stuff in public because they will be censured or even lose their job or their livelihood,” Wax told the DCNF. “There is a myth, a fairy tale in the universities that all people are equal in their latent ability, whatever that means, and their achievement, and that is just completely contrary to fact.”

Wax said allegations that she made students uncomfortable in the classroom were unfounded and that Ruger targeted her for extramural speech. She pointed out that the recently leaked memo of the faculty senate didn’t list any speech in the classroom.

The memo recommends that Wax receive a public reprimand from university leadership, a loss of her named chair and a requirement to note when she publicly speaks, she is not speaking for the university. It also recommends a one-year suspension at half pay and a loss of summer pay in perpetuity. The memo claims that Wax’s speech should be treated as “major infractions of University behavioral standards.”

Magill, who signed off on the recommendation to sanction Wax in the leaked memo, argued at a Dec. 5 congressional hearing that the university had been lenient on antisemitic speech due to the school’s adherence to free speech principles. Magill also defended the Palestine Writes Festival at the school, which involved one speaker who likened Zionism to Nazism and one who said “most Jews” are “evil.”

“Liz Magill lied to Congress because it has never adhered to First Amendment standards,” Wax told the DCNF. “But the fact that they’re bringing this case against me is directly contrary to First Amendment standards.”

Free speech issues on college campuses have been a source of fierce debate since the Oct.7 terrorist attacks against Israel. Former Harvard President Claudine Gay wrote that students “had a right to speak” after over 30 student groups signed a letter blaming the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel and also alluded to free speech at the Dec. 5 congressional hearing on antisemitism.

Harvard University previously rescinded an offer to a student in 2019 for alleged racist comments made when he was 16 years old, and disinvited feminist philosopher Devin Buckley from campus in 2022 because of her views on trans issues.

MIT President Sally Kornbluth allegedly told MIT Israel Alliance President Talia Khan that the university could not evenly apply the code of conduct due to fear of possibly “losing faculty support.” MIT previously disinvited speaker Dorian Abbot, a geophysicist at the University of Chicago, due to his criticism of affirmative action. 

“The far left holds power in the universities, and they are not about to relinquish it,” Wax told the DCNF.

UPenn did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comments.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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