BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — While a Ferris State University professor is on administrative leave for a video sent to students using vulgar language, some students are showing their support in hopes he does not lose his job.
Barry Mehler has been a professor at Ferris State for nearly 30 years.
The video in question is a 14-minute course introduction sent to his students earlier this month. In it, he directs profane language toward the administration for sending teachers back to face-to-face learning during the pandemic.
The university put Mehler on leave, but some students hope he keeps his job.
"I'm going to be more engaged in class to a professor that's swearing at me than someone who talks to me like I'm a kindergartener," said one current FSU student who wished to remain anonymous.
Aaron Wisner, a Ferris alum who had Mehler as a professor, says the language is common in Mehler's classroom and is meant as a source of humor to keep his students involved.
"He has his own way of teaching," says Wisner. "And he's vulgar about it. But ultimately, it's his way of keeping everybody's attention."
In the video, Mehler shows a clip from the TV show, "Deadwood", where the characters use the same language he used in his speech.
Wisner says that clip gives context and justifies the language used.
"I think a lot of this is going to be taken out of context as far as the video," he says. "I can tell you exactly when everybody stopped watching, you know, and it was right before the Deadwood clip."
In the end, Wisner says he hopes the university takes that context into consideration before making a decision on Mehler's future.
"I think all the all of his issues are addressed in the video, and I think they're all reasonable," says Wisner. "I just hope that in the light of all this, that message gets across and he doesn't end up losing his career because of this."
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