A white Georgetown Law professor was fired Thursday after getting caught on video belittling black students during a Zoom call with a colleague, saying they “usually” perform “just plain at the bottom” of her classes.
Georgetown Law Dean Bill Treanor said he was “appalled” by the conversation between now-terminated adjunct professor Sandra Sellers and another faculty member, David Batson, who was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
“I informed Professor Sellers that I was terminating her relationship with Georgetown Law effective immediately,” Treanor wrote in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “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.”
A brief clip posted to Twitter Wednesday showed Sellers and Batson having what they believed was a private discussion about a class they jointly taught.
“I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are blacks,” Sellers said. “Happens almost every semester. And it’s like, oh come on. It’s some really good ones, but there are usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy.”
Sellers made the comments after saying “they were a bit jumbled,” prompting Batson to apparently nod in agreement, the footage shows.
“That’s the best way I can put it,” Sellers said with a laugh on the call. “It’s like OK, let me reason through that, what you just said.”
Sellers, according to the Georgetown Black Law Students Association, was referencing the only black student in her class. The organization quickly called for her immediate resignation, and a petition demanding her ouster garnered hundreds of signatures from students, alumni and several Georgetown faculty members.
“We demand nothing short of the immediate termination of Sandra Sellers as adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center,” the group said in a statement. “Not suspension. Not an investigation. The university must take swift and definitive action in the face of blatant and shameless racism.”
The revealing clip shows the “conscious and unconscious bias” in grading at Georgetown Law and in other law school classrooms across the country, the group claims.
“The difference is that Sellers was caught and her racism was broadcast for the world to see,” the statement continued.
The recorded call was leaked after it was available to students for several days, the Daily Beast reported.
Treanor promised a “thorough investigation” into the matter in a statement released Wednesday.
“We are responding with the utmost seriousness to this situation,” Treanor said. “I have watched a video of this conversation and find the content to be abhorrent. It includes conduct that has no place in our educational community. We must ensure that all students are treated fairly and evaluated on their merits.”