In an article published yesterday in the New York Times, Sandra A. Sellers, a law professor of almost 20 years with the school made the following statement to another professor at the end of a virtual class. The professors were unaware that the recording had continued.
“You know what? I hate to say this,” Ms. Sellers said on the video. “I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks — happens almost every semester. And it’s like, ‘Oh, come on.’ You know? You get some really good ones. But there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy.”
The remarks were deemed racist by the Black Law Students Association which called for the professor to be terminated. She resigned. Here’s the link to the article. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/11/us/georgetown-university-sandra-sellers.html?smid=em-share
I read the professor’s statement and my impression is that the university overreacted.
Ms Sellers is an experienced professor. She’s making an assessment of her students’ capabilities. In her class, there have been some Black students who have not performed to her expectations. But some have. ‘You get some really good ones.’
When professor Sellers says, ‘It drives me crazy,’ I hear despair rather than a racist sentiment. Unfortunately, she didn’t act on it.
Since she’s had this impression for a while, she should have brought it up to the administration and asked for additional assistance for the students. That would have been more fruitful than sitting on her frustration.
I do not think her statement constitutes ground for her dismissal.
The sentiment she expressed may be present in other teachers. The lack of students’ performance may be present in other classes.
Because of systemic racism, some students may not be well prepared and will need help.
Georgetown Law can provide that help and should.
Ms Sellers statements are reason for Georgetown Law to do some serious reflecting.
Are they giving a pass to some Black students because they are Black?
If so, that doesn’t help anybody. It doesn’t help Black students because if not properly prepared they will have problems in the fiercely competitive workplace.
The task of the university is not to react unthinkingly to an accusation of this type, but to examine it in detail, and make sure that any Black student who shows problems with their studies gets all the help they need to be the best they can be. At the university’s expense.
That’s how we overcome systemic racism.
Professor Sellers should be brought back and put in charge of groups for professors to air their views. In private. Without a video playing.