A racially charged controversy at a California college that prompted one trustee to threaten to take conservative faculty “to the slaughterhouse” appears to be based on false claims, according to a Daily Wire investigation.
John Corkins, vice president of the Kern Community College District (KCCD) Board of Trustees, leveled the threat at a December 13, 2022 meeting after college activists accused conservative faculty of racism and making them feel unsafe. Audio obtained by The Daily Wire, however, appears to show that the alleged racist comments were never made, and that activists claiming they felt unsafe were actually treated with respect.
The racist remarks allegedly occurred, ironically, during an October 11 diversity committee meeting, and centered around claims made by students who attended the meeting in support of professor Paula Parks, who obtained her doctorate in philosophy at Capella University and runs Bakersfield’s Umoja ASTEP program, described on its website as “a program that integrates academics, support services and African-American culture.”
After that meeting, Parks’ students began publicly claiming that their mentor was smeared by Matthew Garrett, who has a doctorate in American history from Arizona State University and teaches history and ethnic studies at Bakersfield. One student, Jordyn Davis, submitted a written comment to Bakersfield’s academic senate with an alleged direct quote of Garrett saying “Dr. Parks’ way of teaching is not…” and saying this made her feel “a mixture of confusion and concern.”
In additional comments to the KCCD Board of Trustees in December, Davis claimed that Garrett “went on to insult Dr. Parks,” which she insisted “felt very personal and came from a place of hate.” In both instances, Davis began her remarks by saying Garrett “insisted” that a survey purporting to show students of color experienced “racial stress,” “race-based physical aggression” and “microaggressions” was incorrect.
Audio of the October 11 meeting, in which Garrett was alleged to have made the comments, shows that Garrett did ask whether the underlying survey was valid and suggested doing another survey, since the original was conducted during the pandemic when students weren’t on campus. He also suggested at the beginning of his comments that he was “concerned about repeated appeals to popularity as evidence of truth” and indicated toward Andrea Thorson, Bakersfield’s dean of instruction, that she teaches in her class that this is bad logic. But he did not mention Parks during his remarks.
“Call me old fashioned but I believe in truth and evidence-based reasoning,” Garrett told The Daily Wire. “In an age of emotional incontinence we need to remember that while feelings do matter they cannot displace facts.”
Garrett told Fox News earlier this week that the “completely fabricated” claims of racism could get him fired. Garrett added that since the meeting from which the allegations arose, he had received a notice from the administration claiming he had caused “real harm” to students and was being removed from the diversity committee.
Two other students also submitted comments to the academic senate. One claimed she felt “very uncomfortable” after walking into the room and seeing “a few of the faculty’s faces.” She also claimed that she “felt” that if she were to take those professors’ classes, she “would fail in the classes because of the color of my skin.”
Another accusation centered around comments made by Ximena Da Silva Tavares, a research assistant who received her doctor of philosophy from Caltech. Parks read an accusation from a student at the December board meeting who claimed Da Silva Tavares said during the October meeting that racism doesn’t exist. Da Silva Tavares brought up her own concerns about how the survey showing students of color were the victims of racism on campus was collected and whether there really was an issue of racism on campus. She ended her remarks by saying she and other professors “question the solutions of the problems,” and “question even the problems that you’re saying that we have.”
Da Silva Tavares did not respond to a Daily Wire request for comment.
Another student who submitted comments focused on a question asked by one of the professors at the meeting, Catherine Jones, who asked Garrett when the students entered the room, “Why the f*** are they here?”
Jones admitted to making the comment in an academic senate meeting in October, saying she was reacting to what was, in her view, Parks’ use of students as pawns.
When asked about the allegations against Garrett and other members of the diversity committee, Parks spoke about the “trauma” her students endured at the meeting.
“When I take students to a campus committee meeting, I want them to be positively educated about how an educational institution works, not traumatized and questioning whether they want to enter the profession,” Parks said.
Parks was then asked how her students were “traumatized.” She didn’t respond.
The students and Parks left just 40 minutes into the diversity meeting, after a proposal from Parks creating a new diversity task force was approved.
It was these accusations that led KCCD Board of Trustees vice president Corkins to discuss taking the conservative professors “to the slaughterhouse.”
“I think there’s a segment” Corkins said, referring to people at Bakersfield College, adding that it was only “5 percent that we have to continue to cull.”
“Got ’em in my livestock operation, and that’s why we put a rope on some of ’em and take ’em to the slaughterhouse,” Corkins added, according to reporting from Just The News. “Just bothers me when the bad actors are paid staff and they’re faculty,” who are “hard to get rid of.”
Corkins has since apologized for his remarks, The College Fix reported, saying his “intent was to emphasize that the individuals who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting have my full support.”
The allegations of racism were just the latest in an attempt by Bakersfield to get rid of conservative professors, who run a think tank “dedicated to the free speech, open inquiry, critical thinking to advance American ideals within the broader Western tradition of meritocracy, individual agency, civic virtue, liberty of conscience and free markets” called the Renegade Institute for Liberty, according to their website. As Just The News reported, KCCD general counsel Christopher Hine accused Garrett and his fellow history professor and Renegade Institute colleague Erin Miller of making defamatory statements about the Social Justice Institute (SJI), a rival think tank at Bakersfield. The allegedly defamatory statements related to SJI’s spending, which Garrett and Miller had criticized as politicized. Hine claimed that Garrett and Miller had alleged that SJI had misused grant money.
In response, Garrett and Miller filed a First Amendment retaliation lawsuit against Hine and the KCCD chancellor at the time back in 2021. They filed an amended complaint in the summer of 2022, swapping in the new chancellor and KCCD vice president. Garrett had previously accused the KCCD vice president of sharing confidential files with Garrett’s critics and attempting to block his promotion. A settlement conference in the matter was held on December 5, but a settlement has not been reached, Fox News reported.
Things really began escalating during the 2021-2022 academic year, when four conservative- or libertarian-leaning professors joined Bakersfield’s diversity committee. Even before the conservatives joined, the diversity committee had members previously accusing each other of racism. More conservatives joined the committee during the 2022-2023 academic year, now comprising more than half of the faculty seats on the committee, according to a source familiar with the matter who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
Parks then proposed creating a new task force that omitted conservative members. It was that proposal that was approved the night that Parks and her students alleged racist comments had been made.
Bakersfield College did not respond to a Daily Wire request for comment.