A California college professor is fighting back after he says his job has been threatened due to allegations of racism and hate speech that he said were “completely fabricated.”
Tenured Bakersfield College history professor Matthew Garrett said he and other faculty members of a free speech coalition were targeted with false allegations after they asked questions during a campus diversity meeting last October. Shortly afterwards, Garrett received a notice of unprofessional conduct by the administration that claimed he had caused “real harm” to students and said he was being removed from the diversity committee “effective immediately.”
In December, vice president of the school district’s Board of Trustees John Corkins made headlines after he lashed out at the group during a board meeting saying the “abusive” and “disrespectful” minority of teachers needed to be “culled,” and taken “to the slaughterhouse.”
Professor Garrett told Fox News Digital he wasn’t the only one who had “growing campus frustrations” with the “radical” changes that the district had made in the past few years.
“Many of the faculty quietly tell me thank you for speaking up because we’re afraid to do so,” he said.
He described how critical race theory and other racial equity initiatives had become popular after Black Lives Matter drew national attention in 2020.
“Our campus has been really radically transformed in the last two years or so. In the last two years we’ve adopted critical race theory, diversity training, implicit bias training, micro aggression trainings. We’ve adopted racial quotas and preferences, affirmative action-type behavior, we’ve adopted racially segregated classes, we’ve adopted mandated masks, compulsory vaccines, and location tracking software. We’ve got funding going to propaganda webpages you can track through grants,” he said.
Other professors had raised concerns these social equity initiatives were weakening academic standards, he claimed.
“A lot of the faculty are really concerned about the dissolution of rigor,” Garrett said, as academic programs were replaced with social programs focused on “inclusivity, [where] everyone passes.”
The professor filed a federal lawsuit against the school in 2021 after his job was initially threatened for pushing back against some of these initiatives. His attorney Arthur Willner said his case described a growing problem of intolerance to free speech on college campuses.
“The district’s notion that students and faculty members have a right not to be offended, and not to hear ideas that they find disagreeable, somehow trumps the First Amendment rights of everybody else,” Willner said.
The lawyer said this hostility to the First Amendment pressured many faculty members with opposing ideas to keep silent for fear of losing their jobs and livelihoods.
Garrett said certain faculty members on board with these left-wing social policies were “colluding” with the administration to target faculty members who questioned them.
He shared how one professor specifically said she did not want a diversity of opinions on her race committee, while another argued free speech was a “conservative ruse.”
“So the person doesn’t believe conservatives should be able to speak and if they do speak they should be able to be disciplined?” he said, calling these admissions “very disturbing.”
Still, the professor said he wasn’t going to back down and offered hope to other faculty who may be afraid to stand out.
“None of us want to be unprofessional or disruptive or troublesome. That’s not the goal. The goal is to facilitate open discussions and make sure other faculty know they’re allowed to ask questions, that they’re allowed to question policies they disagree with,” he argued.
Garrett said he plans to keep fighting the district but expects them to throw the kitchen sink at him to pressure him into a settlement.
“I expect that until that point, it’s going to get much, much worse, I expect to have many more false allegations, many more nasty articles in the newspaper alleging various misconducts,” he claimed.
Willner said that no evidence was actually given by the accusers to back up their “demonstrably false” claims about his client.
“At the December 13 public meeting, several individuals falsely accused Dr. Garrett by name, and Professor [Erin] Miller by implication, of engaging in racism and hate speech at an earlier diversity meeting on campus. Not surprisingly, none of these individuals offered any actual evidence in support of these demonstrably false claims,” he said to Fox News Digital.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the Bakersfield College administration for comment.