Constitutional Law prof says he was escorted away from class by security after expressing concerns about DEI
‘It entered my head when they were walking me to the dean’s suite that if I twitched or something I might get shot,’ Scott Gerber said.
‘From the beginning, Dr. Gerber has maintained that he has done nothing to warrant his removal as a tenured professor,’ Gerber’s attorney, Robert Shibley, told Campus Reform.
An Ohio Northern University (ONU) constitutional law professor says security guards led him away from his classroom to the dean’s office April 14 without providing a reason.
“My students appeared shocked and frightened,” Scott Gerber wrote in his Wall Street Journal op-ed “DEI Brings Kafka to My Law School. “I know I was. I was immediately barred from teaching, banished from campus, and told that if I didn’t sign a separation agreement and release of claims by April 21, ONU would commence dismissal proceedings against me. The grounds: ‘Collegiality.’ The specifics: None.”
From @WSJopinion: For criticizing certain DEI efforts, Ohio Northern University is demanding that I gamble the remainder of my career at a table where the administration holds all the cards, writes Scott Gerber https://t.co/b5qng62QTJ.
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) May 11, 2023
Armed town police at the top of the stairs in front of the door followed Gerber down the hallway to the dean’s office, Gerber told Michele Tafoya on her podcast. The dean of the Pettit College of Law is Charles H. Rose III.
“I was scared,” Gerber, tearing up, told Tafoya. “It entered my head when they were walking me to the dean’s suite that if I twitched or something I might get shot.”
Ada Police Chief Alec Cooper told Campus Reform the guards who escorted Gerber from his classroom were not armed because they were ONU employees, and that police officers were present, but did not escort Gerber to the dean’s office, but they were on site there
Three to four days prior to the incident, Ohio Northern University summoned police officers to campus in case something did happen, Cooper said. “There were no words exchanged between our officers and Scott,” Cooper told Campus Reform.
Gerber recorded the meeting with the dean on his phone and asked multiple times what he is alleged to have done, but the dean wouldn’t tell him, Gerber told Tafoya. Gerber gave up his key and parking pass, was escorted back to his office to get his things, walked back to his car, and was banned from campus, he told Tafoya.
Human resources had asked Gerber in January to conduct an interview, but when Gerber asked what the interview would be about, a reason wasn’t provided, Gerber told Tafoya. Gerber said an outside law firm then contacted him and explained his participation in a discussion was voluntary, so Gerber contacted Cleveland-based attorney Michael Murray. Gerber said Murray told the law firm that the most fundamental principle of due process is to tell the person what they did wrong.
“Like many universities, ONU is aggressively pursuing ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ initiatives,” Gerber wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “I have objected publicly as vice chairman of the University Council, an elected faculty governance body, and in newspaper op-eds and on television, to DEI efforts that don’t include viewpoint diversity and would lead to illegal discrimination in employment and admissions.”
As vice chair of the university counsel, Gerber objected to the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) material the university was pushing, saying they needed to remember “viewpoint diversity,” he told Tafoya. The university had established a DEI Commission, and Gerber had told the president of the university at the time that the report had “drifted over into illegality” in its hiring practices and scholarship offerings to students, he told Tafoya. He was reappointed to the Ohio Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Gerber wrote in the WSJ.
“I was naive enough to think … with a tenure and a record like I have, I could push back a little bit, especially because it’s protected activity” Gerber told Tafoya. “I’m allowed, you’re allowed, and anyone is allowed to object to illegality and not be retaliated against, but they did it anyway.”
At one point, the university conducted a search process in the law school and had six finalists, none of whom were white men, Gerber told Tafoya. Gerber said he asked the university how heavily the university took race, gender and ethnicity into account. They wouldn’t tell him at first, and then admitted they took it into account, which is illegal in hiring, said.
“I objected and they didn’t like it,” Gerber said.
Gerber shared a story of Rose, the law school dean, approaching a former student of Gerber’s at a bar-b-que two days before commencement, from which Gerber was banned. Gerber said the dean told the student he heard he contributed to Gerber’s GoFundMe page to pay for Gerber’s legal defense against ONU. According to Gerber, the dean said he thought it was “funny” and felt like he could understand that the student owed Gerber for writing a paper for him that was published and won a national award. “The dean defames him in front of his classmates when he’s trying to celebrate with bar-b-que,” Gerber told Tafoya.
Rose announced his new 5-year contract with ONU in June after Gerber was suspended, according to the National Association of Scholars.
“I wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that I have negotiated a new 5-year contract with the university and will be with you as the dean of the college of law for the foreseeable future,” Rose wrote in a June 8 email to law school faculty members, the National Association of Scholars reported.
Gerber says he attended a hearing the first week of August, and the results are still pending.. Robert Shibley, an attorney from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression working for Scott Gerber, is confident his client will be cleared of charges.
UPDATE: In a letter joined by more than 50 professors, Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy criticized @ohionorthern for suspending Professor Scott Gerber without telling him why he is being punished. pic.twitter.com/Qrj8p9IVQK
— FIRE (@TheFIREorg) May 12, 2023
“From the beginning, Dr. Gerber has maintained that he has done nothing to warrant his removal as a tenured professor, and that the charges against him were based on his expression of legitimate concerns and opinions that are protected by both whistleblower law and academic freedom,” Shibley told Campus Reform.
“No evidence to contradict this emerged at the hearing. Nor was any evidence presented that would explain, let alone justify, Dr. Gerber’s summary suspension and banishment from campus with only three weeks left in the semester. We are confident that a fair and objective look at the evidence would result in Dr. Gerber being cleared of the charges and restored to his position.”
Gerber has a long list of accolades. Gerber was an associate scholar of Brown University’s Political Theory Project. He received his Ph.D. and J.D. from the University of Virginia and his Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William and Mary. He clerked for U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres of the District of Rhode Island and practiced with the Botson-based law firm Bingham, Dana and Gould. He is a member of the Massachusetts, Colorado and Virginia bars and the U.S Supreme Court bar. He was the 2002, 2009, 2011, and 2012 winner of the Fowler V. Harper Award for excellence in legal scholarship and the 2004, 2013, and 2016 recipient of the Daniel S. Guy Award for excellence in legal journalism.