B. Christopher Agee, Western Center for Journalism, November 22, 2013
A University of California Los Angeles professor recently came under fire from a number of students for what they described as racist behavior. According to professor emeritus Val Rust, the entire controversy arose from his effort to instill in his students a higher grammar proficiency.
“I have attempted to be rather thorough on the papers and am particularly concerned that they do a good job with their bibliographies and citations,” he explained in a letter, noting “these students apparently don’t feel that is appropriate.”
He claimed that some students accused him of “micro-aggression” for pointing out mistakes in grammar and punctuation.
Rust noted that another complaint arose regarding a conversation about race that took place among a couple of students in one class. A number of demonstrators took part in the protest as some even occupied Rust’s classroom.
While students like Nora Cisneros joined in the sit-in demonstration, many of those who know Rust best are quick to come to his defense.
“It is disturbing that students would make such unfounded accusations base on misperceptions of what they believe is racism,” said Emily Le, a graduate student at UCLA and longtime acquaintance of Rust.
In all, about 25 students participated in the event, which both Rust and Le said could have been far more effective if protesters had allowed for an open discussion of the issue instead of a unilateral protest.