A professor who called his students “vectors of disease” gets a $95,000 paycheck. A professor at Ferris State University was suspended for saying in a video that his students were “vectors of illness.” He has now settled his legal dispute with the university by taking $95,000 in compensation and promising to retire.
Former Ferris State University humanities professor Barry Mehler also consented to a $60,000 fine. That is, if he violated the gag order by criticizing it in the next three years.
Mehler, 75, filed a lawsuit against Ferris State after being suspended for posting a 14-minute YouTube video that discussed COVID-19, plagiarism, academic performance, Native Americans, cigarettes and the HBO series “Deadwood” at the beginning of the semester in January.
As part of the March deal, Mehler retired rather than risk being fired when a court declined to reinstate him. His video received more than 500,000 views on YouTube after being criticized by the then-president of Ferris State, David Eisler.
A professor who called his students “vectors of disease” gets a $95,000 paycheck
Part of the video shows Mehler saying, “To me, you people are just vectors of disease and I don’t want to be around you at all.”
Mehler, who advocated for a COVID vaccination mandate at the school, declared he wouldn’t answer any student questions. This is to enable him to keep a $300 astronaut-style air-filtering helmet “in order to stay alive.”
“I don’t know if you folks have noticed, but breathing the air is hazardous. Many of your experts are suggesting wearing masks because there is a fatal illness spreading around the world,” Mehler, a history instructor stated in the video.
“Your civilization is crumbling and your planet’s life is vanishing. The degree of misery on this earth is over the sky. Maybe you just don’t see it,” he said.
Additionally, he warned students that they had no influence over the grade they received in the class. He also said that he didn’t want to know their identities.
Insisting that “I’m retiring at the end of this year. I couldn’t give a flying f— any longer,” he dared his students to voice their concerns to their dean. The video, according to Eisler, the former school president, “shocked and disgusted” him.
Watch the video (vectors of disease)
Mehler was informed that he was under investigation. This is for violating both the university’s policy on employee dignity and his teaching contract. The professor was discussing issues of the public interest. This is according to his counsel in a court document submitted to a federal court in late January.
Lawyer Matthew Hoffer said, “These were irreverently constructed with the goal of enlightening the public debate. This makes his students think critically about the concerns of the day.”
Mehler later said that he was acting back then when he used profanity. He claims he was kidding when he said he didn’t want to know his students’ identities or that he would assign grades at random.