“Stay the f**k away from me”: Professor Placed On Leave After Calling Students “Vectors of Disease” and Promising Random Grading

Professor Barry Mehler at Ferris State University in Michigan clearly does not want to return to in-person classes. Appearing in a video with a space helmet, Mehler went full Howard Beale in a video in which he called his students “vectors of disease” and tells them to “stay the f**k away from me.” While many have declared Mehler completely insane, his video may be as clever as a covid-phobic fox. Let me explain.

Mehler teaches the history of science and is the founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism.

In the video below, Mehler lashes out at the requirement that he return to in-person classes despite the risk to his health as an older person. He is profane, insulting, and taunting.

He is also being clearly sarcastic and waggish at points. For example, he tells the students that he randomly assigns grades at the start of the course because he does not care who they are or what they do in this class: “None of you c**ksuckers are good enough to earn an A in my class. So I randomly assign grades before the first day of class.”  However, he later explains how they can earn an A without coming to class if they do the other work.

He uses the pre-written speech (you can see the script when he shares the screen) to attack religion, Western Civilization, America’s legacy, and both the students and the university.

Mehler may set a record for the purely profane in his diatribe:

“I may have f***ed up my life flatter than hammered s***, but I stand before you today beholding to no human c*ksucker,” Mehler says. “I’m working in a paid f***ing union job and no limber-d*ck c*ksucker of an administrator is going to tell me how to teach my classes. Because I’m a f****** tenured professor. So, if you want to go complain to your dean, f*** you, go ahead. I’m retiring at the end of this year and I couldn’t give a flying f*** any longer.”

At one point he declares “[w]hen I look out at a classroom filled with fifty students, I see fifty selfish kids who don’t give a sh*t whether grandpa lives or dies. And if you won’t expose your grandpa to a possible infection with COVID, then stay the f*** away from me.”

It is Howard Beale with a doctorate.

So is this just madness? Perhaps, but I don’t think so. Three clues can be derived from the video. First, there is the fact that this was a pre-written “soliloquy.” It sounds like a spontaneous diatribe but It is a calculated and intentionally worded address. It could be more Machiavellian than Bealean in that sense. While Mehler does call his students “vectors of disease,” he then shows how he took that language loosely from a movie as a teachable moment on plagiarism.

Second, Mehler reveals that he does not want to teach in person. To that end, he encourages students not to come to class and assures them that their grades will not be impacted. Indeed, he strongly suggests that he will look with disfavor on those who appear in this class.

Third, Mehler says that this is his last year before retiring and he has tenure (and union) protections.  He encourages the students to complain to the university. Indeed, he almost begs them to do so. They did and the university expressed the predictable shock as it placed him on leave.

So what does that all mean? It could mean that Mehler was trying to get himself put on leave. (Hopefully, he can still return the $300 space helmet). Before the university could fire him, they must investigate him and follow grievance procedures. He will claim that this was an effort of being edgy and humorous. That process could likely take the year and Mehler would simply retire. In the meantime, he and his space helmet can stay at home.

Or he may be crazy.


67 thoughts on ““Stay the f**k away from me”: Professor Placed On Leave After Calling Students “Vectors of Disease” and Promising Random Grading”

  1. At least he’s interesting. He put a lot of work into that little vid and he kept my attention. He gives the impression of someone who does care about teaching and who has become somewhat embittered after too many years in academia. Compared to the norm, i.e. boring and bored professors dialing it in, he was a refreshing change. I’m not nominating him for sainthood but I’m not horrified either.

  2. No surprise that this man is the “director” of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism. Victims, victims everywhere – whether a flu, academia or whatever; I’m sure his anger colors his view of everything in this world.

  3. You have to be honest some of his little performance is funny, he even talks and looks funny. Here’s the problem, he sums it up in his diatribe. He’s a union member, has tenure, no one’s going to tell him what to do and he doesn’t really give a *#*#! So we can all stop wondering why our kids come home from college (where they probably don’t belong) with their heads up their assets. These men and women teaching our children aren’t the whole problem but man they’re a big part of the problem.

  4. Maybe he is crazy like a fox, and gaming the system.

    But his diatribe also exhibits the hostility towards students so common in academia today. It is also a tacit admission that the vaccinated can still get and transmit Omicron.

  5. People are quick to call it parody or some other type of humor because it is so unbelievable that a professor would act like this. Sadly, he is as serious as a heart attack.
    Trump brought out the rage, paranoia, and small mindedness of some of the worst in society. Biden has succeeded in reducing what was supposedly the best among us, to the same level.

  6. And It was just a running joke, that Klinger was always trying for a section 8 discharge by wearing dresses

    You know its only the elite experts that have the luxury this guy has. He’s clever, Like a jelel thief is clever. Same result, still stealing.

    I noticed he is the “founder” of social justice nonsense. My bet the whole thing is funded by half a dozen grants, all funded by taxpayers. And produces nothing but a stipend for the elite thief.

  7. The fact that millions of our fellow citizens can’t get it through their heads that we now live in a pandemic is just pure ignorance on their part, and we all pay the price for their willful ignorance. The professor is not the only one that would love to be a Howard Beale and scream at the insanity.

    1. So … attack “millions” of “fellow citizens” – while all the lockdowns, masks, lines 6′ apart, vaccines, school shutdowns, etc. have done little to nothing in states exercising common sense. I heard the CDC director state (a day after she didn’t know the answer to a question) that approximately 75% of the deaths somehow related to the CCPvirus were with people with FOUR OR MORE CO-MORBIDITIES.

  8. One pesky, annoying correction: Turley writes: “It sounds like a spontaneous diatribe but It is a calculated and intentionally worded address. It could be more Machiavellian than Bealean in that sense.” Beale’s rant was pre-written by Paddy Chayefsky. Network was a fictional movie written by a writer. It wasn’t a documentary. I write this annoying correction, because too many of us say, “It’s like Jack Nicholson says … ” Nicholson didn’t say that, it was written for him. He read the snappy replies he gave in movies from a script. I’m sure Nicholson and Finch were intelligent and clever people, but they probably weren’t half as witty as the screenwriters made them out to be.

  9. The entire rant is a parody. (Have people lost the ability to recognize parody?)

    A major clue is this:

    “So I randomly assign grades before the first day of class. I don’t want to know [anything] about you. I don’t even want to know your name. I just look at the number and I assign a grade. That is how *predestination* works. (Emphasis added.)

    “And don’t come … complaining to me. Take your complaints to God.”

    He’s a *Jewish* intellectual! And he’s spent his professional life combatting racial predestination in science.

    And then there’s this:

    “Many of *your* experts are advising . . .” (Emphasis added.) That “your”, the helmet, and other touches, are a parody of the Covid panic mongers.

    His vulgarities are a swipe at the culture’s vulgarity.

    His middle finger to the students and administration is, in fact, a “bite me” to the snowflakes and their enablers.

    That “tirade” is hilarious, and very intelligent.

    1. Sam, you can intellectualize this all you want, but I would not spend $200,000 having my kid lectured to by vulgar, overeducated MORONS. It is fools like you that try to use pretend intelligence through a barrage of high sounding words and phrases when in all actuality it is all just plain vulgar and uninteresting.

      1. “. . . it is all just plain vulgar and uninteresting.”

        Said the one who is clearly intimidated by “high sounding words and phrases” — and by intelligence.

        1. Yeah Sam, I am just an idiot for not wanting my daughter to be called a C*CKS*CKER by her professor. But intellectuals like yourself see Plato’s Dialogues, Shakespeare’s prose and Lincoln and Churchill’s oratory skills by this loser calling his students C*CKS*CKERS. Ooh, how erudite you are.

  10. I applaud this professor for a very entertaining and educational presentation. I salute his use of provocative insulting language to make a very justified set of points.

    1. You applaud a guy that couldn’t come up with a speech or lesson without using c**ks*cker multiple times? You applaud an old professor for using vulgarity to 19year old students with an impotence of real thought?

  11. I had a professor in college who did something along those lines, without the profanity and sarcasm. It was an Intro to Sociology class. On the first day the prof went over the syllabus and really stressed the reading schedule and the test dates. Then he told everyone (about 350 undergrads) that the class was graded solely on the test scores and the test dates would not change unless there was a “university emergency” that cancelled classes. Then the test would occur on the next class date, but that would be the only change. He said that he never took attendance and really didn’t care if anyone ever came to class. I went to the second class with about 40 others just to see what would happen. The “lecture” was free-form, hilarious, and interesting. I continued to attend the lectures just for the relaxing entertainment qualities. I also did the readings, took the tests, and received an “A+” at the end of the semester. It was one of my most fun, and most honestly presented, undergraduate classes.

    1. tmsalter: Enjoyed your story and laughed! (not to detract or turn the focus toward me, but I cannot help but recall that I had a highly-regarded and brilliant professor who was elderly, wore Elmer Fudd glasses, shuffled into class like Tim Conway on the old Carol Burnett shows, and wore a large toupee with a side part precariously perched on his head. Sometimes he would enter the classroom and the part in his toupee would be in the middle of his forehead, and once, in the back of his head. No one laughed, no one said a word, and we all rose out of respect when he entered the room. Like you, I got a 4.0 in that class, but I’ll never know whether he confused me with someone else, ha ha.)

    2. My professors were the same. They’re attitude, quite explicitly, was that we were adults, facing adult consequences. If we flunked out, it was all on us.

      I never had a problem with that, but I did have a difficult adjustment when I went into the business world. Maybe the last course in every college should be “Controlling Your Circadian Rhythm,” with required attendance at 8:00 AM sharp. “Controlling Your Drinking” would also be a good idea. Make them walk a straight line to get their diplomas. The dropout rate would be staggering–no pun intended.

    1. Came in young. Went out young too. Hustling round Michigan in his alligator shoes. He’s keeping the students up!
      They are rednecks! Rednecks!
      They don’t know their mom’s from a hole in the ground!
      They are Rednecks.
      They’re keeping teachers down!

  12. This professor didn’t always treat his students and his classes this way. I would love to get some comments from some students of his from 15 and 20 years ago, or longer ago than that. What this man is telling all of us is that ‘somethings’ happened between the mid to late 1990’s, and the current time which caused his changes.

  13. Brilliant – great introduction to the course, sets expectations, admonishes students to not commit plagiarism, tells people how to get a good grad and does it in an entertaining and satirical manner. Talked a little smack and educated young people on their real risk. Wish I had professors like this.

  14. What a cagey old coot. I manipulated the system to get earlier retirement benefits back in 2007-2008 financial crisis. My hats off to him.

  15. Bitter, profane old man.

    This is what we entrust our young people to?

    No idea what his motivation is, but the rant is an indictment of our higher education system, the people it attracts, and the employment system utilized.

    Time to restructure the university system (and hire a better class of educator).

    1. It is also the least of what is wrong with our higher education institutions today. They are the incubators of the social madness that has overtaken the United States, the crazy need for “safe spaces,” the birthplace of the re-institution of segregation (at the demand of minorities), and so much more. And it is not “crazy” in any sense of the word – it is completely intentional.

    2. There are very few with the training to take his place as the vast majority these days have been taught by people like him. Seriously – it’s generational now, and I don’t know how we fix it. They are all Squeaky Fromms, and she was very much still insane and in love with Manson when he died.

    3. So when you read “A Modest Proposal” you were horrified by the suggestion that the famine solution was to eat Irish children?

      1. “So when you read “A Modest Proposal” . . .”

        Well, you gotta admit, eating children is a bit over the top. Maybe just nibble on a limb or two.

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