An Inside Look at Soc119: Sam Richards on Teaching a Controversial Subject

Story posted December 9, 2014 in News by Leah Polakoff


Sam Richards is known as one of the most controversial professors on the Penn State campus. Richards teaches Sociology 119, a class on racial and ethnic relations. Despite his controversial teaching habits, his class is known as “the class to take” before you graduate. It’s one of the most common gen-ed classes, and there is always a waiting list to enter. In fact, the class is so popular that students who aren’t enrolled will come in and sit on the stairs of 100 Thomas just to watch Richards teach.

Unlike other sociology professors who steer clear of calling students out and using their personal opinion, Richards is very open about pointing out racial differences, often calling students to the front of the 700-person class and pointing to their facial features and asking them extremely personal questions. Check out his ratings on and you’ll see that he’s known as a pot-smoking white man who hates white people. What college student wouldn’t want to take his class?