WATCH: Professor sends clear message to school after suspending him
Campus Reform sat down with Jason Kilborn, University of Illinois at Chicago professor who recently filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the school.
Kilborn was recently suspended for using a redacted slur on a law exam and claims he has since been severely mistreated by the university.
Campus Reform’s Addison Smith sat down for a one-on-one interview with Jason Kilborn, the professor at the center of growing controversy at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Kilborn recently filed a lawsuit after being suspended from the university for using a redacted slur on a law exam question as an example of wrongful discrimination in the workplace. The suit invokes multiple Constitutional infringements, most notably, the First Amendment.
In the interview, Kilborn said he was falsely accused initially of using the full slur uncensored when his dean met with him to address the issue.
”[I go to the meeting], and she reveals to me, she says... ‘It’s been suggested that you used a racial slur on your exam’,” Kilborn explained. “I did not use a racial slur on my exam.. The entire word wasn’t spelled out because I wasn’t born under a rock. I understand full-well the very deep and very painful history of that word,” he continued, adding that that was the very reason he included the redacted slur.
Nonetheless, he goes on to say that he offered to send an apology letter to the students, but suspects that the complaints raised against him came from outside the classroom.
”I have no idea -- to this day -- who suggested that this was a problem. I have a very, very strong suspicion that it was not anyone who was in that class,” he stated, suggesting that someone with a “political axe to grind” heard about the redacted slur and reported it out of context.
This development prompted the Black Law Students Association to create a petition that he said, “quite clearly suggested that I had used the entire words,” piling on to the situation and ultimately leading to his suspension.
”The university administration could have handled this quietly and constructively in two days. But instead, we have what we have now and I’ve been under this relentless attack for a year,” he stated.
Following his suspension, Kilborn was forced to undergo sensitivity training before he could return to the classroom. But additional materials used in his training had one of the same redacted slurs he used in his exam question.
”They assign me to do this online sort of diversity course... But they also, of course, wanted to make it more burdensome and painful for me, and so they assign me a series of these supplemental readings,” he said.
One of the readings he was assigned contained a censored reference to the N-word, the same expunged slur he used on his law exam.
”[UIC has] subjected me to a year-long relentless campaign of torment because I wrote “N” space on my exam, and now, the very first reading that you give me says “N (space) in it,” he said.
Kilborn said his lawyer wrote the school demanding an explanation as to why the material he was subjected to contained the same contents he was suspended for. They allegedly never responded.
Kilborn then broke down the lawsuit he recently filed, calling it “complicated” because “there are so many arguments to present.”
The lawsuit cites First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations, a violation of UIC statutes, and a violation of Illinois’ Violence Prevention Plan.
”They’ve completely violated my academic freedom,” said Kilborn, who didn’t mince words about the state of higher education.
”[Prestigious universities] are completely falling apart at the seams.”
Towards the end of the interview, Kilborn reported “radio silence” from the university, but says he doesn’t plan to back down from his lawsuit.
”I don’t think that the University could give me a settlement offer that I would accept. I’m not interested in settling... I want them to be told in no uncertain terms: There’s this thing called the First Amendment... [UIC] obviously [is] not familiar with it... Well, I’ve got news for you, UIC: This lawyer is not going to be pushed around,” he said.
Watch the full interview above.
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