“A Ferris State University historian who called his students ‘vectors of disease’ will receive a $95,000 settlement to retire,” reports The College Fix. “Barry Mehler cannot criticize the university for three years as part of the settlement, or else he will have to pay $60,000 back.”
“University officials suspended Mehler in January. He had taught there for almost three decades.”
In the viral video, he said he was beholden to no “c*cksucker” and called students “vectors of disease.” Later, he sought to reverse his suspension, contending that critics misinterpreted his tongue-in-cheek teaching style, which he argued kept students engaged and awake in class.
Mehler may have profited from his suspension, since he was able to stay home from work during the suspension, and now is able to retire with backpay. Mehler sued the university over his free-speech rights, yet now he has agreed to waive his right to free speech against the university for three years.
Such a waiver is probably enforceable under the Supreme Court’s Rumery decision, although some courts in other parts of the country have occasionally refused to enforce some types of waivers of free speech rights by former school employees or employees of government agencies. (See, e.g., Davies v. Grossmont Union High School District (1991); U.S v. Marchetti (1972)).
The College Fix reported on the controversy earlier:
“I don’t know whether you people have noticed, but it’s dangerous to breathe the air,” Mehler said in his video. “Many of your experts are advising wearing masks because there’s a deadly virus spreading around the planet.
“Your civilization is collapsing and life on your planet is going extinct,” he said.”
“I want to introduce myself before we actually meet F to F, as we say these days, which everybody knows means f*ck to f*ck—which really means that we’re all f*cked […] You people are just vectors of disease to me, and I don’t want to be anywhere near you. So keep your f*cking distance. If you want to talk to me, come to my Zoom,” he said.
There is “no benefit whatsoever from coming to class,” Mehler said. “I will not take questions in class, because I’m wearing this fucking helmet in order to stay alive. So please come. Enjoy the show. I’ll be there regularly, because I have no choice. You, on the other hand, have a choice. Thank you very much.”