A group of Penn Law students, alumni and other lawyers called on the university to strip Professor Amy Wax of her teaching duties following a report that she made racist remarks at a conference.
A petition led by the Latinx Law Students Association had collected more than 1,000 signatures calling on the school to take action.
“Many of us immigrated to this country or are the children of individuals who did,” the students wrote in the petition. “Regardless of when we came here, when our parents came here, or even when our grandparents came here, at some point in time, we have all encountered messages that we are not welcome, that our cultures are inferior, or that we should go back to where we came from.”
Vox reported July 17 that Wax blamed immigrants for an increase in “litter” and said “our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites” while speaking at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington.
Penn Law dean Ted Ruger said his ability to comment was limited because he hadn’t read the transcript from the conference.
“While we are still gathering the facts, certainly the statements that Vox and others have attributed to Professor Wax do not reflect our institutional values or practices,” Ruger said in a statement. “While as a member of the faculty she is free to express her opinions as provided in Penn’s policies protecting academic freedom and open expression, the views of individual faculty members are their own, and do not represent the institution’s positions.”
Wax did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This is not the first time that she has been criticized by students for comments about immigrants and people of color.
In 2018, she was barred from teaching a mandatory first-year law school course after saying she had never seen a black Penn Law student graduate in the top quarter of their class, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported at the time.