White professors can no longer tell their students to “be respectful in class” or ask them to take their feet off of desks or to turn off their phones, lest they be investigated for racial bias.
Anita Moss, a senior lecturer of biology at the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) was investigated after she called police on a repeatedly disruptive student, according to the College Fix. Moss, who is white, had been telling Paige Burgess, who is black, all semester to be less disruptive and to take her feet off of chairs.
The problem started when another student, Apurva Rawal, put out a tweet making it seem like Moss had flipped out and called the police just because a student had her feet up in class. He sent a video of the police removing the student.
The tweet went viral and media outlets like BET claimed Burgess was removed simply for being black and putting her feet up. Rawal continued tweeting that in the prior class, Moss “went on a whole tirade about how uncivil we all were because a few students were on their phone or not paying attention, cutting lecture time for the rest of us because her ego was bruised.”
Rawal concluded that the events “genuinely make me concerned for not only my fellow students, but any future roadrunners that may choose to attend this institution in the future.”
UTSA conducted an investigation and found Moss did not discriminate against the student. The university spoke to Burgess, interviewed current and previous students, and concluded “racial bias was not a factor.” Burgess herself said she never thought she was disciplined because of the color of her skin.
In a tweet on November 15, Burgess said she was “repeatedly asked” about whether race was a factor, and she didn’t believe it was. She said Moss apologized to her “for her classroom reaction.” Burgess, in turn, “apologized to her if my behavior appeared to be disruptive, unprofessional, or uncivil as a student.”
Even though Moss was cleared of racial discrimination and had positive reviews from students, she was removed from class for the semester. The racial bias investigation was not the only investigation going on. Her demands for proper classroom etiquette were also reviewed, and led to her removal, the Fix reported.
To get back in the classroom, Moss must “engage with UTSA’s Teaching and Learning Services individually to understand her internal and the external factors negatively impacting her capacity to manage the classroom,” as demanded in the investigative report. She’ll also have to follow up with them “each semester for three years for a ‘Quick Course Diagnosis,’ and must first receive approval to teach her course,” the Fix reported.
UTSA President Taylor Eighmy sent an email to students on November 13 announcing the investigations against Moss, writing that “regardless of the final outcomes regarding yesterday’s incident, we have an obligation as an institution to take a hard look at our campus climate—especially for students of color—and enact systemic change to make UTSA a more inclusive campus.” (Emphasis original.)
After the investigations were concluded, Eighmy relied on racial tension again, even though that wasn’t a factor in Moss’ punishment.
“After hearing from so many students, faculty and staff regarding their feelings of marginalization, disrespect and fear, I am more convinced than ever that this is a top priority for UTSA,” he wrote.
A warning for professors: Any attempt to prepare students for their future outside of college is now subject to discipline. Incidents like this one remind us that sensitive students are lurking everywhere, prepared to strike whenever they see an opportunity to play victim.