EXCLUSIVE: 'And if they fire me, I’ll sue for my job,' prof says amid accusations of racism, sexism
A professor at Loyola University New Orleans has been accused of spouting racist, sexist comments in the classroom.
Campus Reform spoke with three students that denied experiencing such language from the professor.
An economics professor at Loyola University New Orleans is currently under fire as numerous bias complaints have been raised against him for supposedly spouting racist, sexist comments “in classes, in [your] writing, and in [your] emails.”
However, multiple students have denounced these claims as false and the professor is now considering legal action.
On December 10, Walter Block, received an email from Provost Tanuja Singh informing him “another” bias complaint had been issued against him.
According to the email, obtained by Campus Reform, Block allegedly used racist and sexist language throughout communication in his course.
The statements in question include “slavery wasn’t bad,” “women make less money because they are lazy or incapable,” “women are paid less because they don’t work as hard, and it’s the same with people of color,” and that the “‘Disability Act’ shouldn’t exist.”
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In an email obtained by Campus Reform, Block responded to Singh later that same day requesting copies of the complaints “verbatim” as well as the dates and timestamps of when Block made the comments in question during his lectures.
“I have recorded every session of my course this semester,” Block wrote.
Rachel Hoorman, vice president of marketing and communications at Loyola University New Orleans, explained the complaint and notification process to Campus Reform.
“We have a faculty investigator who gathers evidence related to the student's complaint and recommends action to the Provost,” Hoorman stated. “The Provost reviews the evidence and recommendation and makes a decision about the action to take. The faculty member is notified of the complaint when it is received, is asked to respond and participate in the investigation and then is notified once there is a result.”
Block, a tenured professor, is denying the validity of the accusations and told Campus Reform he intends to sue if severe action is taken.
“And if they fire me, I’ll sue for my job,” Block said.
In an interview with Campus Reform, Block stated that the concepts discussed in his class aim to convey libertarian arguments around issues that include the gender pay gap.
Block subscribes the Austrian School of economics, having published numerous books such as Property Rights: The Argument for Privatization (2019), An Austro-Libertarian Critique of Public Choice (2017), Toward a Libertarian Society (2014), and Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty (2013).
This is not the first time that his libertarian scholarship has caused controversy.
Block referred to a 2016 court case Block v. New York Times co (2016) where he accused The New York Times of “defamation and false light invasion of privacy” after an interview on libertarianism that resulted in the publication writing, “Walter Block, an economics professor at Loyola University in New Orleans who opposes slavery but describes the daily life of slaves as “not so bad,” is also highly critical of the Civil Rights Act.”
Campus Reform spoke with three of Block’s students, all of whom said the allegations were out of context.
Leith Edgar, a student who has taken 13 credit hours of instruction with Block said that he “never heard one such derogatory statement made.”
“I’ve copy edited more than 1,000 pages of text for Professor Block and read more of his extensive works,” Edgar continued. “I’ve received more than 100 emails from Professor Block over the past 23 months. Not once have I heard, read, or received anything untoward as has been falsely claimed.”
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“I just think it's wrong to be essentially trying to remove, you know, bully, an 80-year-old, tenured academic, because you're [an] 18, 19, 20-something who doesn't like his opinions, and you know that he has a history of being attacked,” Edgar stated.
Myles Owens, another student at Loyola University New Orleans who identified as more “liberal minded,” told Campus Reform about his experience attending three of the professor’s courses.
To his account, he stated he could not refer to anything “extraordinary” happening in class, and that the accusations may have been “lost in translation.”
Owens explained that debate is often the center of discussion, and ideas are often challenged in terms of devil's advocate.
“I think it’s different, somewhat, when your professor [is] also on the same side as [you], and presuming like a devil’s advocate situation, rather than being someone else presenting these ideas and actually believe in them,” he said. “I think that, for a lot of people, that may be a little more intense there.”
“He has always encouraged us to push back and form our own opinion,” Owens attested.
Anthony Cesario, another student of Block’s, chalked the allegations up to a “misunderstanding.”
Cesario transferred to Loyola University New Orleans specifically to study under Block after reading his publications, crediting the experience as positive due to encouragement to consider hard topics from multiple perspectives.
Block is not a stranger to facing accusations on campus, following up in his Dec. 10 email on the status of another complaint that was issued the first week of the semester.
“I was accused of likening Gandhi and Hitler,” Block explained. “And actually, what I said is that they're polar opposites. I said some people liken them, according to some theories, but it's wrong. But they said that I said the exact opposite of what I said.”
Additionally, a petition was organized in 2020 titled “Fire Walter Block” that included similar grievances. The petition called for Block to be fired from the University, and garnered 764 signatures in support.
Block told Campus Reform that the student who initiated the petition had “never taken a class of [his].”
“[The students] don’t like me, they don’t like my views. I’m a libertarian,” Block said. “They’re snowflakes. They’re using it as an excuse to fire me from my university, Loyola University.”
A counter-petition, “Give Walter Block a Pay Raise,” was later public and garnered 6,159 signatures.