Throughout my time as a student, I have had the privilege first, to even get to go to school as I realize not everyone may have the opportunity to do so, but I’ve also been able to attend public, public charter, and private institutions. Never once did I have to defend my rights as a student until this year. Obviously this is surprising as I am a senior months away from attaining my undergraduate degree. Speaking to one of my job supervisors this week, as we reflected, I realized that I have never written or spoken about what happened to me in Bologna, Italy.
The director of my program (and a professor for two of my courses) at the time (he is no longer there but definitely still employed at my college) made several racist remarks about marginalized groups and also referred to my socioeconomic status and mental health on a couple of occasions. Although I feel that my grades at the end of the semester were contingent on some of these factors and the way I called him out on his problematic behavior, my requests for a grade change were ultimately denied. I will link my petition at the end of this post.
Then I come back to campus and to my surprise, I find out that this professor is teaching the final course I have to take in one of my majors in order for me to complete the degree. For those reading who know me, you know that I definitely downloaded the “Request to Drop a Major” form and had to come to my senses and realize that I was two classes away from completing that specific major.
In my efforts to address the fact that I would not be taking my final class in my major with a problematic individual, I was told that there would be alternatives (because of course they couldn’t just switch the professor). So fast forward to now as I am looking into the senior seminar, and that professor will still be teaching it, I am a little confused as to what to do.
So I do my (type A planning due diligence) and I spoke to my advisor and he suggested that I take a 300 level course instead of my senior seminar. Although it seems like it could be a solution to this dilemma, it is not because I’ve already taken a 300 level course in this major and in the same exact subject. This course is not equivalent to a senior seminar due to the fact that it is not a course for just seniors and is a class taught in a language other than the one that concerns my major (can you tell I’m a foreign language major yet?).
So if you’re still reading, you can imagine how surprised I am that the department has expressed little to no concern over any of the matters I have already addressed. For example, that same problematic professor sat in on a class that I pay money for, just to witness and make unintelligent comments during the class. You can obviously assume how uncomfortable this made me – I received texts from three friends in the class letting me know that he was there and as soon as I received them, I walked out of the building just to have to take an unexcused absence because my current professor (who knew about all of my concerns) chose to ignore them and invite him into the course – without any warning of course because why would they let me know that someone I am filing a report on would be sitting right behind me in class?
So as much as I will forever praise my higher ed institution for giving me all of the opportunities it has, making it possible for me to be the first person in my family to graduate from college, I will not allow these issues at a PWI to be ignored. These things have happened in the past with other professors in other departments with other students but I felt like it was my duty to let you all know that issues of diversity are still a problem at many of these schools because my college is doing a great job with diversity initiatives but they have a tenured professor employed at the college since probably before my mother was born, and although the college is advancing, that doesn’t mean the individuals within it are changing their mindsets as well.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
If you are to read the petition, I shared it here.
Update and addition:
This afternoon, I attended my scheduled 1:30 Monday/Thursday Italian class with a professor who happens to be the head of the department for my major. I
actually completed the homework, went through and defined all of the words I didn’t understand, and participated in my group work and my class discussion. This class is always silent – it feels like it’s a group of 5 students when it really consists of ~22 students. I like to participate since I actually understand the material and its dreadful when no one else listens/participates/understands (I wonder what this must feel like to the professor). So I usually feel a little smart because no one says anything. Today, not even 24 hours after I wrote this blog post and sent this professor an email addressing my concerns about next semester, he blows up lmao.
I zoned out in class because the class does get a little boring sometimes (especially at 1:30 right after that pizza I ate) and I guess I was smiling within my daydreams. I was most definitely just staring at my friend’s jacket where the tag said a word that I don’t even remember anymore. All of a sudden I snap back in to hear my professor yell at me in front of my entire class of seniors asking me if I wanted to make the whole class laugh. I, obviously, confused asked him to repeat himself and he said it again and I said no. I was shook – didn’t know what he was even talking about, thought of it as, “maybe there’s a joke in this poem” but that wasn’t the case.
I was pleasantly invited to come see my professor after class and I was like:
I thought he was going to talk to me about the email I sent to him (which I wrote about above). I went in there confidently ready to stand my ground and he comes mentions a couple of times, “now Jasmin, this has NOTHING to do with the email you sent me yesterday” and I’m sitting there thinking…yes it does lmao, oh let’s hear what’s next. He comes to tell me that in every class I’m always smirking/laughing. Now I’m like:
So I’m like mhm and he continues to tell me that he’s seen this behavior since day one (I don’t remember the rest quite honestly). So me being the good student I am said:
“I’m sorry I usually participate I just zoned out today and I know that’s not an excuse but yeah”. So once again he lets me know this has nothing to do with the email…it definitely does now. So he tells me to act like an adult (I’m thinking…sis…you just called me out in class, how adult like but that’s tea) – says I’m always laughing across the room with my friend, he doesn’t care what I’m laughing about (yes he does lowkey but I’m not even laughing so I can’t tell him the joke, wish I knew the joke myself, it would probably make the class a little less dead at times) and tells me THAT THE NEXT TIME I SMIRK HE GUNNA KICK ME OUT THE CLASS. Now I’m really sitting there being a good person just saying “okay” because I don’t think the conversation would’ve been productive if I had said something else. But I’m there thinking:
- Did this man just threaten me? Did he really just threaten to kick me out of the class I pay money for? Did he really just assert his masculinity to let me know that he’s ultimately in control? Did he try to instill fear in me to defend his problematic colleague?
- Why did he do this the day after my email where I called him out?
- Why did he say this has nothing to do with the email?
- Why has he not called out the kid I’m apparently smirking with?
Once a kid threw a banana peel at someone in class randomly, and he didn’t even react LMFAO
- He mentions that he can see people not paying attention,
- So why don’t you call them out?
I’m like…this is soooo interesting, I’ve been doing this since September 3rd YET the day after this email and blog go out, I get yelled at (this has never happened to any other student in this classroom setting before). I was like “okay thank you”
Hope you laughed a little because I was so in shock, I called my mom and y’all don’t even WANT to know what she said.