Burning witches in academia: It’s the IN thing.
They’re coming for you next: Sandra Sellers, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center in Virginia was immediately fired by her dean without any investigation, based on an intentional false misreading of of her words said during what she thought was a private Zoom phone conversation.
Last month, Georgetown Law adjunct professor Sandra Sellers told a colleague privately on Zoom, “I hate to say this—I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower [graded] ones are blacks.” Some black students, Sellers said, did well, but the overall pattern made her “feel bad.”
Sellers was not aware that her conversation was being recorded and uploaded to the aptly named “Panopto” software system. If someone had chosen to, he might have clipped her words and posted them to Twitter with the caption: “We need more white professors like this, who feel shame about how badly law schools are failing students of color. Thank you, Professor Sellers!” Instead, Sellers’ words were clipped and posted by Georgetown Law student Hassan Ahmad with the caption: “.@GeorgetownLaw negotiations professors Sandra Sellers and David Batson being openly racist on a recorded Zoom call. Beyond unacceptable.”
That day, without speaking with Sellers, William Treanor condemned her “reprehensible statements,” which he declared “abhorrent.” The next day, against his own university’s policies, Treanor fired Sellers without an official investigation.
Treanor also suspended without investigation David Batson, the law professor whom Sellers was speaking to.
The moral and legal violations here were not committed by Sellers by her words, since she was simply expressing a concern for her minority students and her frustration that she had not been able to figure out a way to help them do better. No, let me list the real violators to truth and justice:
First, while Hassan Ahmad’s recording was apparently not a violation of law, as the Zoom conversation occurred at the end of a recorded passworded class session after all the other students had logged off, he committed an immoral and malicious act by clipping the words to make it sound like Sellers was bigoted, and then proceeded to slander her falsely and start a campaign to get her fired.
Second, Dean Treanor was both a petty tyrant and a coward by firing Sellers and suspending Batson. His school’s policies required him to conduct an investigation in the matter before taking such action. He however apparently considers himself a god who doesn’t need to provide due process to others. He knows what is right, and thus has the right to condemn and destroy others, at his whim.
He is also a coward, because I am sure he did this out of a terrified fear that if he didn’t act immediately a mob of self-righteous twitter bigots would descent upon him and the school for the dastardly crime of demanding due process for all.
Third, that mob, which included the university’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action. and its Black Law Students Association, must be condemned. They weren’t interested in finding out the truth and serving justice, they immediately gathered their torches and pitchforks to demand the burning of these witches. Furthermore, they also demanded that all grading be reviewed to guarantee acceptable grades for all black students.
In a petition, the Black Law Students Association also called on the law school to conduct an audit of Sellers’s grading and student evaluations. It also wants the school to assess and improve its “subjective” grading system and commit to hiring more Black professors.
In other words, if you are black you must be given favored status, both in grading and in hiring.
Fourth, Sellers herself should be condemned, not for her words but for immediately kow-towing to this mob.
Sellers shared a resignation letter with The Washington Post in which she apologized for the “hurtful and misdirected remarks” that were part of a longer discussion about patterns in class participation. “I would never do anything to intentionally hurt my students or Georgetown Law and wish I could take back my words,” Sellers said in the letter. “Regardless of my intent, I have done irreparable harm and I am truly sorry for this.”
Though she did nothing wrong, she apologized while also accepting her termination meekly. She should have instead fought for her rights, and fought hard, not simply to defend herself against an unjust act but to use that fight to highlight the very point of her words, that for too many minorities the education system was failing them.
Instead she gave in, and rather than address that real educational problem the school will now worsen it by adjusting the grades of black students upwards, even if they don’t merit it.
We really do live in a time of witch-burning and mob rule. Woe to anyone who dares express themselves honestly on controversial issues in an academic setting. Academia no longer celebrates freedom of thought and robust debate. What it now celebrates is conformity, oppression, and bigotry, the hallmarks of all of the worst tyrannies in human history.
I’ve said this over and over, but it bears repeating over and over. If you have a high school son or daughter, whether they be white or black, schools like Georgetown University are the last places you should send them. Such schools should go bankrupt, and do so as quickly as possible.