The petition to remove Walter Block from the classroom has 600 signatures. The counter-petition has thousands.
“If Loyola is really wanting to remove racism, they should remove racists from teaching,” the petition said. “While it is important to have professors with different views and opinions and beliefs, racist and sexist beliefs should not be a part of this.”
Cazalas launched the petition after hearing from other students that Block made “multiple racist and sexist comments.” Block allegedly said schools should be able to deny admission to students with disabilities and that women don’t deserve to pay equal to what men earn, according to Cazalas’ telling of what other students said.
“If we have people in our lives, who we love, who have opposing views, we should do all we can to educate them. But at the end of the day, people are entitled to their own views and their own opinions. No one should try to change someone’s views, we should just try to make sure everyone’s educated,” Cazalas said.
This is different from what has become known as “cancel culture,” Cazalas said, since Block is “trying to teach these views onto people.” Cazalas continued: “I don’t care what a professor’s views are. What I find offensive is that he teaches these views.”
Cazalas doubts the university will fire the tenured professor.
“I’ve reached out to certain students privately to let them know that the only way to accomplish this is to file a Title IX report,” Cazalas said. “I started the petition hoping someone would file a Title IX report against him.”
A Title IX complaint, filed with the U.S. Department of Education, could trigger a federal investigation of the university and of the professor. No such report has been filed, and it is unclear if the Education department would be required under law to investigate one.
Block said he has felt supported by university leadership, even if they don’t agree with his views.
University spokeswoman Patricia Murret did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Claims that Block made racist statements relied on a 2014 front-page New York Times article. Times reporters quoted him saying the daily lives of slaves in America were “not so bad,” and that restaurants operating before the Civil Rights era had “a right” to deny admission to African Americans.
Block told Zenger News that he condemns slavery. He distinguishes, however, between involuntary slavery and “voluntary slavery,” known as indentured servitude.
In the former, tens of thousands of Africans came to North America against their will during the 16th and 17th centuries. In the latter, tens of thousands of English, Irish, and Germans came to the American colonies willingly to work without monetary reward for a predetermined period of time, often seven years.
The U.S. ended the importation of slaves in 1808 with an act of Congress and abolished all forms of unpaid servitude in the 1860s with Constitutional amendments.
“I figured there’d be black people on the jury, so I probably wouldn’t win or it’d be a very hard slog,” he said.
The Times story now carries an editor’s note that reads: “While Mr. Block has said that the daily life of slaves was ‘not so bad,’ he opposes slavery because it is involuntary, and he believes reparations should be paid.”