A left-wing member of the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees has apologized for saying that the community college district needed to “continue to cull” conservative faculty opposed to its diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. He said that at a December board meeting in which minority students and faculty accused those who who challenge diversity, equity and inclusion programs of racism, and sought their termination. His apology came after his remarks were cited in a First Amendment lawsuit against the district by conservative faculty who say they have been retaliated against for their beliefs.
“I apologize to anyone who felt threatened or was offended. My intent was to emphasize that the individuals who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting have my full support,” said John Corkins, vice president of the Board of Trustees. At the meeting, he said, “several African-American faculty, students and statewide representatives … shared …. their feelings of disappointment in the district for allowing these actions [expressing opposition to the DEI programs] to continue.”
A video of the Dec. 13 meeting reveals Corkins saying there are “abusive” faculty that “we have to continue to cull.”
“Got them in my livestock operation and that’s why we put a rope on some of them and take them to the slaughterhouse. That’s a fact of life with human nature and so forth, I don’t know how to say it any clearer,” he stated.
Corkins’ threatening remarks were made about professors who have challenged various antiracism and diversity, equity and inclusion programs and policies, including a group of faculty called the Renegade Institute for Liberty.
Tenured history Professors Matthew Garrett and Erin Miller, who teach at Bakersfield College, which is part of the Kern Community College District, are among the Institute’s leaders.
In 2021, Garrett and Miller were threatened with being fired after they questioned use of grant money to fund social justice initiatives at their college. In response, they filed a federal First Amendment lawsuit against the community college district.
The Renegade Institute for Liberty describes itself as “a coalition of Bakersfield College faculty dedicated to the free speech, open inquiry, critical thinking to advance American ideals within the broader Western tradition of meritocracy, individual agency, civic virtue, liberty of conscience and free markets.…Through intellectual exploration and reason, the Institute works to preserve each of the above virtues as necessary for a free people and to advance the cause of liberty in America.”
But some claim the institute’s positions have made them feel “unsafe,” asking trustees to “terminate professors …. who founded the group Renegade Institute for Liberty,” reported the local NBC affiliate. “The group has had campus controversy over its advocacy of free speech, considered by others as hate speech, and dealings with other groups on campus,” the news station added.
A faculty member who supports the Renegade Institute for Liberty says those who complained at the board meeting “failed to provide any specific examples of racism or ‘hate speech.’”