BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan professor who was suspended for making a provocative video for his history students won't be returning to class any time soon.
A federal judge rejected Barry Mehler's request for immediate reinstatement Wednesday and set a March 7 hearing on his bid for a preliminary injunction.
Mehler, 74, was suspended with pay on Jan. 11 after making a sarcastic 14-minute video that included profanity and criticism of Ferris State University’s COVID-19 policies. His attorneys said the professor was wrongly punished for expressing free speech.
Mehler called students “vectors of disease” and said they could skip in-person classes and still get a good grade by following course requirements posted online. The video has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube.
Ferris State, located in Big Rapids, 155 miles (250 kilometers) northwest of Detroit, encourages but doesn’t require a COVID-19 vaccination.
Mehler said he was performing when he used salty language in the video and was joking when he told students that he didn’t want to know their names and would hand out grades in a random manner.