A Ferris State University professor has been suspended after a controversial video of him went viral in which he tells students they are “vectors of disease” and that their grades are predetermined, regardless of their efforts.
History professor Barry Mehler wore an astronaut-style helmet during the session and covered topics including grades, attendance, COVID-19, and the HBO series Deadwood.
He also said he assigns grades randomly before the first day of class because that’s how “predestination works.”
The peculiar 14-minute video has garnered 465,000 views so far, with Ferris State putting Mehler on administrative leave while officials investigate his introductory session of the new semester.
University President David Eisler said he is “shocked and appalled” at the video that Mehler claims was a humorous start-of-term introduction for his students “to get their juices flowing.”
“If a professor comes in and he’s all high and mighty and using words they don’t understand — that doesn’t help them relax and think. It was a performance,” 74-year-old Mehler told The Associated Press.
Students Support Professor
Mehler’s suspension has created a stir among his students, with some showing their support in hopes that the professor who has taught at Ferris for nearly 30 years doesn’t lose his job.
Ferris alum Aaron Wisner vouched for his ex-professor, saying the history teacher often uses humor to keep his students involved.
“He has his own way of teaching and he’s vulgar about it,” Wisner told a local TV station. “But ultimately, it’s his way of keeping everybody’s attention.”
Academic freedom group, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is helping Mehler defend his teaching style in the class.
“I’ve gotten lots of support since this happened,” Mehler said. “People who have watched the video are writing to say, ‘It was hysterical. I laughed from beginning to end.’”