The Charlotte Observer
A professor at Ferris State University in Michigan has been placed on administrative leave after a profane rant in which he referred to students as “vectors of disease.”
The comments were made by Barry Mehler in his introduction video to students for one of his classes. Mehler is a history professor in the university’s humanities department, MLive.com reported, but he is no longer listed on its faculty page.
David Eisler, the president at Ferris State, said he was “shocked and appalled” by Mehler’s video to students.
“It is profane, offensive and disturbing and in no way reflects our university or its values,” Eisler said, WOOD-TV reported.
In the 14-minute video, the 74-year-old tenured professor said he is retiring at the end of the school year while informing students no one will tell him how to teach his classes.
He urged his students to stay away from his classroom and instead attend virtual classes through Zoom.
“You people are just vectors of disease to me and I don’t want to be anywhere near you,” Mehler said. “So keep your f—— distance. If you want to talk to me, come to my Zoom.”
Mehler later referred to a full classroom as students who don’t care “whether grandpa lives or dies.” He said students should not come to the classroom and risk infection, either to him or themselves.
He said his choice of words in the profane lecture is a reference to an episode of the show “Deadwood.”
The professor went on to mention his grading system comes from the doctrine of predestination, meaning students do not have control over their grades.
“None of you … are good enough to earn an ‘A’ in my class, so I randomly assign grades before the first day of class,” Mehler said. “I don’t want to know s— about you. I don’t even want to know your name. I just look at the number and I assign your grade.”
The university did not comment about Mehler’s claims of his grading system. A campus spokesperson told MLive that Mehler is on administrative leave pending an investigation.
While continuing to urge his students not to attend in-person classes, Mehler said he will be in the classroom “regularly because I have no choice.”
Ferris State University reported 97 actives cases of COVID-19 as of Jan. 13. The spring semester recently began at the university in Big Rapids, Michigan, and the campus required students living on campus to bring results of a negative COVID-19 test when arriving for the new term.