A white professor from California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) has been accused of racism after claiming that people of African descent have “significantly lower IQs.”

Three professors and three students filed complaints against CSUEB Professor Gregory Christainsen at a Board of Trustees meeting, as reported by The San Francisco Chronicle

The complaints dealt with his assertion that people of sub-Saharan African descent have lower IQs compared to other ethnicities.

Assistant Professor of Biology Pascale Guiton, originally from the Ivory Coast, said it was “appalling and scary” that someone with that mindset is teaching and evaluating Black students and faculty.

Petition Filed

Aside from the complaints filed at the school, CSUEB students also filed a petition at change.org. They called on the administration to strip Christainsen of his Emeritus title, and also to cease funding “controversial” journal publications. As of Tuesday, the petition has gained over 1,700 signatures.

The petition cited examples of Christainsen’s controversial publications, such as one from 2012, Biology, Immigration and Public Policy, where he claimed that the average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans is “quite low.”

He also asserted that Hispanics “score poorly on intelligence tests (on average) and tend to have less massive brains” than whites. This results in a high rate of “dependency.” His conclusion that more ethnically diverse communities exhibit less cooperation should be remedied by “certain programs in cost-effective wars.”

Aside from Christainsen’s ouster, the petition also calls for the school to “establish more student resource centers geared towards ethnic support for minorities” and to mandate comprehensive diversity and inclusion training for staff and faculty.

Christainsen’s Response

Upon being informed of these complaints, Christainsen responded that he would prefer that people “provide evidence pertaining to the truth or falsity of research findings” rather than “recklessly” using the word “bigoted.”

Christainsen stated that he does not enjoy reporting his research results, specifically the variance in average test scores among different ethnic groups. However, he expressed that he would be welcome to discuss the possible reasons behind these differences. 

On a personal note, Christainsen shared that he is not a “white nationalist” and the evidence that he presents does not support “white supremacism.” He described himself as a “liberal in the spirit of John Locke.”

University Response

In response to the complaints, an unnamed CSUEB representative responded with the stance of the university.

The representative characterized Christainsen’s statements as “antithetical to the core values of Cal State East Bay” because the university is committed to maintaining an inclusive community that responds with tolerance and respect.

However, CSUEB has honored Christainsen’s right to open expression on the grounds of academic freedom.

Since the university is a public institution of higher education, it is “bound to uphold First Amendment guarantees” which include freedom of thought and speech.

This holds true even when the administration strongly disagrees with certain statements, as long as the expression is “lawful and comports with our campus time, place, and manner policies,” according to the statement.

Effect on Community

While the university is obliged to respect academic freedom, there are calls to acknowledge that controversial statements such as those by Christainsen will have a negative effect on students and the community.

CSUEB Associate Professor of Economics Jung You contends that professors can be biased and this can have a negative effect on people. “[Christainsen] is teaching his own research, which is not neutral.” According to You, Christainsen promotes “very racist and anti-education ideas.” You expressed that Christainsen’s statements break her heart, making her feel “really troubled.”