Michigan professor suspended for calling students ‘vectors of disease’ settles lawsuit for $95,000
A runaway Michigan professor who called his students “disease vectors” and warned them to “keep your fucking distance” settled his free speech lawsuit against the university where he taught for $95,000 and agreed to retire.
As part of the deal with Ferris State University, annoyed educator Barry Mehler agreed to a three-year gag order, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by the Associated Press.
The professor must pay $60,000 if he publicly criticizes the college during that period.
The judge in the case rejected his request for reinstatement.
dr. Barry Mehler, a tenured professor of history at Ferris State University in Michigan, called his students “vectors of disease” in a pre-semester video published Sunday.
Ferris State (pictured) said Mehler has been placed on furlough while his conduct is being investigated, but Mehler’s lawyer now says the university has violated his First Amendment rights
Mehler was suspended in January after posting a 14-minute orientation video for his history lesson, laced with profanity and instructions on syllabus, grades, plagiarism, classroom attendance and COVID-19 protocols.
In his lawsuit against the college, he said the suspension violated his First Amendment rights and argued that his despicable tirade was part of his “style” for which he has been applauded by administrators in the past.
“The university would have Dr. Mehler should celebrate and defend, not punish him momentarily,” his attorney Matthew Hoffer said in a letter.
‘Dr. Mehler has been inundated with letters of support from current students, alumni and university faculties, as well as students, teachers and law professors from around the world,” Hoffer added.
In the video, the professor, angry that students didn’t need to be vaccinated, told the class that he was tenured and would be retiring next year so he didn’t want to hear their complaints.
Mehler has taught Ferris for nearly 30 years and is the director of the university’s Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, according to his since-deleted bio.
‘Go complain to your dean, f*** you! Go ahead,” Barry Mehler yells in the video. “I’m retiring at the end of this year and I don’t care anymore!”
He also held up a helmet with a visor that he should wear in class to prevent the corona virus from infecting him.
“I won’t answer questions in class because I’m wearing this damn helmet to stay alive,” he said, referring to an astronaut helmet with air filters.
The college, which sits in Big Rapids, Michigan 155 northwest of Detroit, had decided to return to in-person classes, and Mehler was concerned and unhappy about the risk of contracting COVID.
“I am old enough to be your grandfather, and you are pathogens to me,” he said. “So when I look at a classroom of fifty students, I see fifty selfish children who don’t care whether Grandpa lives or dies.”
Mehler says the video was meant to get his students’ “juices” flowing and administrators have known his style for years
The college suspended him after the video went viral on YouTube, which has more than half a million views.
In addition to profanity, he made sexual references while ranting about his attendance policies, grades, plagiarism, and COVID-19.
Mehler, who founded the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, also told students that it didn’t matter how hard they worked in his class because he randomly determined their grades ahead of the semester.
“None of you … is good enough to get a 10 in my class,” Mehler said. ‘So I give random grades for the first day of class. I don’t want to know anything about you. I don’t even want to know your name. I just look at the number and I give a number. That’s how predestination works…
‘And don’t come…complain to me. Take your complaints to God.’
Mehler said his tirade was meant to make the students think.
“The whole idea was to get their juices flowing,” Mehler told the AP in January, referring to the video and his students. “But they also knew their grade wasn’t based on predestination. That was just humor.’
Ferris State President David Eisler said he… was ‘shocked and horrified’.