GET-UP Statement about Wax Op-Ed

Friday, August 11, 2017

Graduate Employees Together – University of Pennsylvania (GET-UP) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the recent Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed co-authored by Amy Wax, Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania and Larry Alexander, Warren Professor at the University of San Diego, and Wax’s additional comments to the Daily Pennsylvanian.

GET-UP is a community of graduate workers at the University of Pennsylvania. We are children of single mothers, we have benefitted from welfare, we are immigrants and children of immigrants, we are people of color, we are from inner cities, we are not Protestant. We are all the things that Wax says should lead to failure, yet we are at the top of our field.

As a diverse community, and a community that we strive to make even more diverse, we reject the premise that cultures can be neatly separated and placed into a moral pecking order, with the so-called “bourgeois culture” of the 1950s white upper middle class at the top. We are outraged that a representative of our community upholds, and published, these hateful and regressive views.

We condemn the presence of toxic racist, sexist, homophobic attitudes on campus. This is not an issue of academic freedom; we have no comment on her academic work. The superiority of one race over others is not an academic debate we have in the 21st century; it is racism masquerading as science.

The kind of hate Wax espouses is an everyday part of many students’ lives at Penn, and we can and must fight against it. For every incident like this that gains press and publicity, we must recognize that there are countless which go unmarked and unchecked. We call on President Amy Gutmann to join us in condemning this affront to both the values and the members of our community. GET-UP stands with the students attacked by Professor Wax, and against racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia in all their forms.