LAW professor Sandra Sellers was terminated from her post at Georgetown University after getting caught saying "black students perform 'at the bottom' and are 'jumbled".
Sellers was fired on March 11 following an investigation by the University’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action.
What did a Georgetown law professor say that got her fired?
In a Zoom-video call, which has since obtained nearly 700,000 views, adjunct professors Sellers and David Batson made “reprehensible” statements about Black students.
The conversation between Sellers and Batson triggered an investigation and called by the school’s Black Law Students Association for Sellers’s firing.
The footage, shared by a student who denounced the conversation as "beyond unacceptable" shows Sellers saying: "You know what? I hate to say this… 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.
"It’s some really good ones, but there are usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy," Sellers is caught saying.
At the start of the clip, Sellers told her colleague: "They were a bit jumbled."
Batson – who was seen on the Zoom call nodding and saying "Yup" – was placed on administration leave on March 11.
Another video clip of the Zoom call showed Batson responding to Sellers.
He said: "What drives me crazy is, you know, the concept of how that plays out. And whether that is… you know, my own perceptions playing in here and when certain, my own, you know, my own unconscious biases, you know, playing out in the scheme of things."
What did Georgetown say about the incident?
Georgetown Law Dean Bill Treanor shared a message to the school's law community to explain the consequences Sellers and her colleague, Batson, must now face.
Treanor's statement read: "As I wrote to you last night, I am appalled that two members of our faculty engaged in a conversation that included reprehensible statements concerning the evaluation of Black students.
"I informed Professor Sellers that I was terminating her relationship with Georgetown Law effective immediately. During our conversation, she told me that she had intended to resign.
"As a result of my decision, Professor Sellers is no longer affiliated with Georgetown Law."
Meanwhile, Batson remains on administrative leave "pending the investigation by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action, the results of which will inform our next steps."
Treanor concluded his statement by insisting "this is by no means the end of our work to address the many structural issues of racism reflected in this painful incident, including explicit and implicit bias, bystander responsibility, and the need for more comprehensive anti-bias training."
He continued: "This is a matter of great concern to me. I will be writing to you soon with a range of actions and changes that we will implement to address these issues.
"I will also send information about a listening session for the Georgetown Law student community that we plan to hold tomorrow."
Has Seller apologized for her statement?
Sellers shared a resignation letter with The Washington Post where she apologized for the “hurtful and misdirected remarks” that were part of a longer discussion about patterns in class participation.
"While the video of this incident is an excerpt from a longer discussion about class participation patterns, not overall grades, it doesn't diminish the insensitivity I have demonstrated," she wrote.
“I would never do anything to intentionally hurt my students or Georgetown Law and wish I could take back my words.
“Regardless of my intent, I have done irreparable harm and I am truly sorry for this.
"For that reason, I am immediately and voluntarily resigning my position as an adjunct professor."
She also reflected on her nearly 20 years teaching at Georgetown, saying when her students do not excel in courses she teaches, "it reflects shortcomings on my part, not just on the part of any single student."
"My comments were the inarticulate reflection of long soul searching. I must do better to understand and address these issues.
"I am committed to doing this for myself and also looking for ways I can combat racism in the Georgetown community," she added.
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