Monday, January 17, 2022

Covid News

Of an incident at Ferris State University:

David Eisler, the president of Ferris State University, said in a statement that he had been "shocked and appalled" by Prof. Barry Mehler’s video. (AP) Eduardo Medina Mon, January 17, 2022, 8:05 AM In a profanity-laced introduction video for a history class, professor Barry Mehler wears an astronaut-style helmet with air filters, tells his Ferris State University students that they are “vectors of disease” and says that their grades are predetermined, regardless of their efforts. “I will not take questions in class because I’m wearing this” helmet “in order to stay alive,” Mehler, 74, says toward the end of the video, using an expletive. “So please, come to class. Enjoy the show. I’ll be there regularly because I have no choice.” The bizarre 14-minute video, which has been viewed more than 360,000 times since it was posted on his YouTube page Jan. 9, resulted in Mehler being placed on paid suspension while university officials investigated his eccentric introduction to the new semester, according to Sandy Gholston, a university spokesperson.


Mehler, whose LinkedIn page identifies him as the founder of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism at Ferris State and says that he teaches classes on “the history of science and the interface between science and racism,” did not respond to calls and an email seeking comment Saturday, but on Friday, he told The Associated Press that the video was “a performance.” Charles Bacon, president of the Ferris Faculty Association, said in a statement Saturday that the university’s response to the video was “intimidation and coercion directed at all faculty, not just Dr. Mehler.” He added that the association considered the suspension to be an “attack on academic freedom” that suppressed intellectual discourse. Whether students watching the video considered it funny was unclear, but those tuning in to class for the first time would have heard Mehler say, about five minutes in, “I stand before you today beholden to no human.” He then tells students that if they want to complain to the dean, they can “go ahead” because he is “retiring at the end of this year” and does not care — all while mixing in six expletives. As he shares his screen, a Word document can be seen on Mehler’s computer that contains all 1,687 words of his speech, with certain parts (“MORE BAD NEWS”) appearing in bold type. When it was time to discuss grading, he provided unusual direction: “You have no control over your grade.” It doesn’t matter how “hard you work or how great your grades are,” he says, adding, “my grading system is based on the Calvinist doctrine of predestination” — a theory, developed by 16th-century theologian John Calvin, that one’s entrance into heaven or hell was predetermined by God, regardless of one’s actions on Earth.

From the New York Times

[One wonders if certain Law professors subscribed to this theory of grading???]

Elsewhere, from the Newark Star-Ledger


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