University of Michigan professor on leave for calling students ‘disease vectors’ on video

A tenured professor at Michigan University, 74, who wears a ‘space helmet’ AND a mask to Zoom class, is placed on leave for calling students ‘disease vectors’ for wanting to attend face-to-face learning

  • Barry Mehler, 74, posted a profanity video on Sunday a day before the spring 2022 semester began
  • Mehler is a tenured member of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan
  • In the 14-minute video, Mehler called students ‘vectors of disease’
  • Mehler has taught Ferris for nearly 30 years, has been placed on administrative leave as university investigates incident
  • The status of his spring 2022 course remains unclear



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A tenured professor at the University of Michigan has been placed on leave after he told students in a profanity-laden video that he didn’t want to know about them because they were “just pathogens.”

Barry Mehler, 74, a tenured professor of history at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, posted the 14-minute video on Sunday, a day before the spring 2022 semester began.

In the video, he told the students that it didn’t matter how hard they worked in his class because he randomly determined their grades prior to the semester.

“None of you … are 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.’

Barry Mehler, 74, (pictured) a tenured professor of history at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, posted the 14-minute video on Sunday, a day before the spring 2022 semester began

Barry Mehler, 74, (pictured) a tenured professor of history at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, posted the 14-minute video on Sunday, a day before the spring 2022 semester began

Mehler introduced himself at the beginning of the video wearing what he described as a helmet fitted with filters to protect him from the coronavirus.

Mehler introduced himself at the beginning of the video wearing what he described as a helmet fitted with filters to protect him from the coronavirus.

Mehler introduced himself at the beginning of the video wearing what he described as a helmet fitted with filters to protect him from the coronavirus.

Mehler has taught Ferris in the humanities department for nearly 30 years and is director of the university’s Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, according to his biography on the university’s website which has since been removed.

Mehler introduced himself at the beginning of the video wearing what he described as a helmet fitted with filters to protect him from the coronavirus.

“I don’t answer questions in class because I wear this… helmet to stay alive,” he said.

Mehler is one of several professors who have expressed concerns about the return to personal learning during the pandemic.

“I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s dangerous to breathe the air,” he said in the video. “Many of your experts recommend wearing masks because a deadly virus is spreading across the planet. Your civilization is collapsing and life on your planet is dying out.”

He told his students he had no choice but to return to class to teach, but urged the students not to join him due to his age and the increased risk of contracting the virus.

Mehler has taught Ferris in the humanities department for nearly 30 years and is the director of the university's Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, according to his bio on the university's website (pictured) which has since been removed

Mehler has taught Ferris in the humanities department for nearly 30 years and is the director of the university's Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, according to his bio on the university's website (pictured) which has since been deleted

Mehler has taught Ferris in the humanities department for nearly 30 years and is the director of the university’s Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, according to his bio on the university’s website (pictured) which has since been removed

“I’m old enough to be your grandfather, and you guys are pathogens to me,” he said. “So when I look at a classroom of 50 students, I see 50 selfish children who don’t care whether Grandpa lives or dies.”

And if anyone has a problem with what he said, Mehler had an answer for them.

“Go complain to your dean … go ahead,” Mehler said on the video. ‘I’m retiring at the end of this year and I [don’t care] no longer.’

Ferris State said Mehler has been placed on leave while his conduct is being investigated. The professor did not respond to an email asking for comment.

“I was shocked and shocked by this video. It is profane, offensive and disturbing and in no way reflects our university or its values,” President David Eisler said Thursday.

Towards the end of the video, Mehler tells the students not to worry about how distance learning will affect their grade,

“You can’t control your grade,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how … hard you work.”

Mehler’s bio is no longer on the university’s website, and the status of his course in the spring of 2022 remains unclear.

Ferris State (pictured) said Mehler has been placed on leave while his conduct is being investigated.  The professor has not responded to an email asking for comment

Ferris State (pictured) said Mehler has been placed on leave while his conduct is being investigated.  The professor has not responded to an email asking for comment

Ferris State (pictured) said Mehler has been placed on leave while his conduct is being investigated. The professor has not responded to an email asking for comment

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