Ball State University says Shaheen Borna, the marketing professor who called police on a black student who declined to change seats in his classroom, has been relieved of duty.
What We Know:
- University spokeswoman Kathy Wolf told CNN, “Dr. Borna will not be teaching classes the remainder of the semester. The decision was made to ensure continuity in the curriculum, eliminate any unnecessary distractions, and help our students complete the appropriate course expectations.”
- The university is not providing specific details of what prompted Borna’s exit. Ball State’s general counsel’s office is saying it did not bring any formal charges against him, nor was any disciplinary action taken that resulted in the professor being suspended, demoted, or discharged. Any of those actions would have to be disclosed as public records.
- Sultan Benson, the student, arrived at class early to find his usual seat occupied. Borna told him to use an empty seat toward the back, which Benson told CNN he readily agreed to do.
- When another student left about an hour into class, Borna asked Benson to move up. Already settled, with his belongings unpacked and his laptop charging Benson asked why he had to move. That is when Benson said things escalated. Benson claimed Borna said, “Either move your seat or I call the police.”
- Two campus police officers responded, and video of the incident shows multiple students coming to Benson’s defense. After speaking with police, Benson was able to leave without incident, but said he changed classes after the confrontation and has experienced increased anxiety and nightmares.
- On Thursday, Benson made a statement referring to Borna’s departure: “…it defnitely is a small victory won in the battle, and I’m glad to see them do something temporarily. My only worry is if this slap on the wrist is enough.”
- Borna, who has been a member of the Ball State faculty since 1983, issued an apology in January to Benson and to the class via email reportedly saying he “mishandled” the situation.
CNN reached out to Borna for a comment at the time of the incident, but he said he has been asked not to speak with media.