The professor was caught on video making ‘abhorrent’ comments about her Black students
Last night, a video featuring two Georgetown Law professors went viral and has since not only prompted an investigation by the university due to the racist comments made in the clip, but also led to the firing of one of the professors involved. And for good reason: The comments were downright awful.
Shared on Twitter by a Georgetown Law student, the clip shows professors Sandra Sellers and David Batson engaged in a conversation that included what Georgetown University Law Center Dean and Executive Vice President Bill Treanor accurately described as “reprehensible statements” regarding the professors’ evaluation of one of their Black students. More specifically, Sellers made racist AF comments — comments that should have been shut down immediately and without hesitation from fellow professor Batson, but weren’t.
“They were a bit jumbled, that’s the best way I can put it,” Sellers started. “It’s like, OK, let me reason through that, what you just said. 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.’ There’s some really good ones, but there’s also usually some that are just plain at the bottom, and it drives me crazy.”
Batson simply nodded along.
The clip was then posted to the online database Panopto, where students were able to access the recording. The Georgetown Black Law Students Association (BLSA) then sent a letter, a petition to Georgetown Law Administration, expressing their “condemnation of Georgetown University Law Center Professor Sandra Sellers.”
“These racist statements reveal not only Sellers’ beliefs about Black students in her classes, but also how her racist thoughts have translated to racist actions. Professor Sellers’s bias has impacted the grades of Black students in her classes historically, in her own words,” BLSA wrote.
They then demanded the immediate termination of Sellers as an adjunct professor Georgetown Law.
“Not suspension. Not an investigation. The University must take swift and definitive action in the face of blatant and shameless racism,” they wrote in the petition, which received more than 1,000 signatures.
And they got just that.
Dean Treanor responded to the clip on Wednesday in a letter to the school community that said an investigation had been launched by the school’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action.
“We learned earlier this week that two members of our faculty engaged in a conversation that included reprehensible statements concerning the evaluation of Black students. We are responding with the utmost seriousness to this situation,” Treanor wrote. “I have watched a video of this conversation and find the content to be abhorrent. It includes conduct that has no place in our educational community. We must ensure that all students are treated fairly and evaluated on their merits.”
Then, today, the university fired Sellers (can you hear that? that’s us slow-clapping the university). Batson, on the other hand, has been placed 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 wrote.
“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. This is a matter of great concern to me,” Treanor added.