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Georgetown Law Professor Caught Making ‘Abhorrent’ Comments About Black Students on Zoom

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Racist remarks towards black students were recorded during a “private meeting” on zoom.

What We Know:

  • This semester, Professor Sellers was recorded during what she believed was a private meeting with Professor David Batson. The two were discussing a black student’s performance in a course they taught jointly. Hassan Ahmad, who shared the video on Twitter, told everybody that the class meeting happened last month.

  • CBS News recently reported that Professor Sandra Sellers stated, “I hate to say this … I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks. Happens almost every semester. And it’s like, ‘Oh, come on.’ It’s some really good ones, but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy.” Professor Sellers was referencing the only Black student in her class. She stated that this Black student was being placed at the bottom of the grading scale.
  • When the students, community members, and alumni of Georgetown Law found out about this instance, they were upset and made it known in the Georgetown BLSA Instagram comments. The Georgetown Black Law Students Association Club (BLSA) shared their own statement on their Instagram, and a couple of the students stated their opinions on its Twitter account.

How tf is it unconscious bias, if you are fully aware you are doing it?! 😠

— JPrince (@japrincer) March 11, 2021

  • The law school Dean William Treanor released a statement in an interview on Thegrio. “I recognize how hurtful this incident is to members of this class, to the members of the Black community, and members of our community as a whole. I am committed to taking steps to support students through this and to addressing racism and bias wherever they appear.” At the same time, Batson has been put on administrative leave pending the investigation.

Georgetown School of Law has said that they will continue this investigation. They apologize to the students and community members for this instance from one of their faculty members.

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Coronavirus

Miami-Dade County School District Worries about Funding after Gov. DeSantis Bans Mask Mandates for Schools

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Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said he felt concerned about striking a balance between protecting Miami-Dade’s school district and following Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ orders.

What We Know:

  • On July 30, DeSantis signed an executive order which prohibits the implementation of mask mandates in schools. The Florida governor said students have suffered because of mask policies and that it was “prudent” to protect parents’ ability to decide whether or not their child wears a mask. Furthermore, in a Monday meeting, DeSantis claimed that putting masks on children can “negatively impact” their learning, speech, emotional and social development, and physical health. However, he did not provide any evidence that this actually happens.
  • DeSantis’ move comes after states, municipalities, and school districts begin to re-evaluate their mask policies in accordance with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines; CDC officials recommend that  all teachers, staff, students, and visitors in schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • The Miami-Dade School District declared they would re-evaluate their mask-optional policy and release their final decision two weeks before school starts. But DeSantis’ declared if the State Board of Education sees a school district board is unwilling to comply with his order, it will withhold the transfer of state funds, discretionary grant funds, or discretionary lottery funds. In addition, the board may deem a school ineligible for competitive grants.
  • In response, Carvalho stated that the District hopes to craft protocols that will guarantee they receive grants while also protecting teacher’s and students’ well-being.
  • DeSantis made his decision while Florida experiences a spike in coronavirus cases. Due to the highly contagious Delta variant, cases jumped by 50% since last week. Alongside this, Florida hospitals face issues treating patients with the virus, as most are operating overcapacity.

Although the state is becoming the U.S.’ epicenter for the pandemic, DeSantis also reported he would not put Florida under another lockdown or force people to take the vaccine.

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Education

Spelman College Clearing Outstanding Student Balances for Last School Year

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Atlanta’s Spelman College, ranked the No. 1 Historically Black College & University (HBCU) for 14 years, has cleared all outstanding balances for the school year 2020-2021.  Spelman joins Clark Atlanta University and South Carolina State University, both of whom also recently cleared outstanding student balances.

Here is the press release from the college:

Spelman Clears Outstanding Student Balances from Academic Year 2020-2021

splogotag283cmyk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jazmyn Burton
Spelman College
404-798-5212
jburton8@spelman.edu

ATLANTA (June 26, 2021) To address the financial hardships that have taken a toll on students and families over the last year, Spelman College cleared outstanding student balances from AY 2020-2021, an action made possible by the receipt of funds from the federal government.

In addition, for all Spelman students during 2020-2021, the college implemented a significant 14 percent discount of tuition and fees, and reset tuition and mandatory fee rates back to 2017-2018 rates for AY 2021-2022.

This reset to the lower tuition rates of four years ago will have a long-term impact on affordability, said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman.

“Spelman’s in-depth study into the financial aid needs of our students several years ago reinforced our understanding of one of this country’s fundamental inequities: high performing, high need students are drastically underfunded,” said Dr. Campbell. “If 2020 taught us anything, it is that racial fault lines continue to make the lives of African Americans quantitatively harder than those of non-Black Americans.”

Beyond the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College is mindful of the amount of debt that families incur and has spent the last four years raising more than $120 million in new financial aid.

“Despite the financial hurdles, our academic outcomes are impressive. Half of the students Spelman serves are PELL eligible, that is low to moderate income, which makes our six-year graduation rate of 75 percent, 30 percentage points above the national average, a standout,” said Dr. Campbell.

During the pandemic, Spelman was able to directly impact every enrolled student in one or more of the following ways:

  • Refunding a portion of fees to enrolled students related to the spring 2020 semester
  • Establishing a student emergency fund in spring 2020
  • Offering a one-time 14 percent composite discount on tuition and fees for academic year 2020-2021
  • Providing federally funded emergency student financial aid grants to students June 2020, spring 2021, and summer 2021
  • Clearing outstanding student balances for 2020-2021
  • Developed a forthcoming partnership with Lyft to provide subsidized rides to a maximum of 500 students residing off-campus without their own vehicle


About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 54 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 14th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit Spelman College.

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South Carolina State University erases $9.8 million in student debt

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South Carolina State University, a historically Black university in Orangeburg, said in a news release last week that the move will provide relief for students “who were previously unable to return to college due to financial hardship caused primarily by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What We Know:

  • SC State University Acting President Alexander Conyers said in the release that the school is “committed to providing these students with a clear path forward so they can continue their college education and graduate without the burden of financial debt caused by circumstances beyond their control.”

“No student should have to sit home because they can’t afford to pay their past due debt after having experienced the financial devastation caused by a global pandemic,” he said.

  • The decision to erase the student debts will be funded by nearly $10 million the school received in federal aid.   SC State University is utilizing approximately $4 million in funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and $5.8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. Both pieces of legislation provided economic relief to Americans, businesses and other organizations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Wilberforce University announced last month it would clear more than $375,000 in debt, including fines, fees and other balances paid directly to the school.  Clark Atlanta University announced that it too, would clear student debt from the 2020-2021 school year.

Debt among college students has increased more than 175% over the last 20 years.

 

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