Race, Zoom, and the Absence of Tenure

The Story:

History will surely record that, in the early 2020s, issues of race and equity shook all of the institutions of life in the United States, higher education among them. The historians of posterity shall devote at least a footnote to the departure of Sandra Sellers from the post of Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law Center, a very distinguished law school affiliated with Georgetown University in the nation’s capital.

What Happened:

Two adjunct professors, Ms Sellers and professor David Batson, were recorded discussing the performance of Black students in a seminar on mediation and negotiation. They were apparently unaware that, after dismissing the class, they were still on Zoom and still recording.

Ms Sellers said: “They were a bit jumbled. It’s like let me reason through that, what you just said. 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.” Batson silently nodded.

The Thing to Know:

The video circulated on social media for weeks before the matter came to a head. On Thursday, March 11, Dean Bill Treanor fired Sellers and placed Batson on administrative leave pending further investigation. Batson soon thereafter resigned. In 2021, everything ‘comes out in the wash.’

 

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