College accuses black professor of racial harassment against white students
The professor, Shannon Gibney, said that she was talking about structural racism when white male students became upset.
A Minnesota college's administration issued a formal reprimand to a female black professor last month accusing her of creating a "hostile learning environment" for white male students, Campus Reform recently learned.
Three white male students filed a racial harassment discrimination complaint against the professor claiming a discussion on structural racism in her Introduction to Mass Communication class made them feel uncomfortable.
"It was inappropriate for you to single out white male students in class," states the letter from Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) Vice President of Academic Affairs Lois Bollman, according to an article in The Raw Story.
"Your actions in [targeting] select students based on their race and gender caused them embarrassment and created a hostile learning environment," it continues. "For that reason, I have determined that a reprimand is warranted."
The professor, Shannon Gibney, said she was talking about structural racism when one white male student got upset and asked "Why do we have to talk about this in every class?" and another asked "It’s like people are trying to say that white men are always the villains, the bad guys. Why do we have to say this?”
"He was taking it personally," she said in an interview with City College Air, a student media source. "I tried to explain, of course, in a reasonable manner — as reasonable as I could given the fact that I was being interrupted and put on the spot in the middle of class — that this is unfortunately the context of 21st century America.”
She told the students that if they were still offended they should "go down to legal affairs and file a racial harassment discrimination complaint.”
The two students — along with another white male — did just that.
The reprimand will remain in Gibney's permanent file, and she will also have to attend two appointments with the school's executive director of diversity.
The incident was not the first of its kind for Gibney. She was also reprimanded in 2009 after allegedly singling out white male students on the school newspaper staff for not doing enough to eliminate bias from the organization, according to an article in Minneapolis City Pages, a local news source.
The reprimand for this incident was also formal, according to The Raw Story.
Gibney and six other professors are filing a class action lawsuit against MCTC, alleging that it is a discriminatory workplace.
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Editor's Update: The Minneapolis Community and Technical College administration released this statement in response to enquiries Monday night.
“At Minneapolis Community and Technical College we believe it is essential for our students to understand issues of race, class and power, and we encourage the faculty to actively engage students in respectful discussions about these topics and create an atmosphere in which students may ask questions as an important part of the classroom experience. That’s how we learn. As a diverse college we want to ensure that students, faculty and staff from all cultures and backgrounds feel welcomed and have an appropriate learning environment. We train our employees to ensure that these critical conversations around issues of diversity are constructive and lead to understanding."