A Georgetown University law professor is out of a job and another placed on leave after taking part in a virtual conversation that included “reprehensible statements concerning the evaluation of Black students,” the school said Thursday.
A video of the conversation that has gone viral on Twitter showed law professors Sandra Sellers and David Batson discussing student performance over Zoom.
“You know what?” Ms. Sellers said in the video. “I hate to say this, I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower [students] are Blacks — happens almost every semester. And it’s like, ‘Oh, come on.’”
“Mmhmm,” Mr. Batson responded, nodding.
Ms. Sellers let out an exasperated laugh before continuing, “I get some really good ones, but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom, it drives me crazy.”
“So I feel bad,” she added, shaking her head.
“Uh huh,” Mr. Batson responded before the video ended.
Beyond unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/q5MoWjBok8
— Hassan Ahmad (@hahmad1996) March 10, 2021
Georgetown Law Dean Bill Treanor said in a statement Thursday that he was “appalled” by the comments in the video and that the university was taking “significant steps” to ensure that all students in the classes taught by those professors are fairly graded.
“I informed Professor Sellers that I was terminating her relationship with Georgetown Law effective immediately,” Mr. Treanor wrote. “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.
“Professor Batson 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,” he continued. “Until the completion of the investigation, Professor Batson will have no further involvement with the course in which the incident arose.”
In a resignation letter Ms. Sellers provided to Fox News, she wrote to Mr. Treanor that she is “deeply sorry” for her “hurtful and misdirected remarks.”
“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 of 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.”
“My comments were the inarticulate reflection of long soul searching. I must do better to understand and address these issues,” she added. “I am committed to doing this for myself and also looking for ways I can combat racism in the Georgetown community.”