UTSA: No Racial Bias in Viral Student Police Incident

UTSA President Taylor Eighmy has released the results of two investigations into a viral video that showed campus police being called to a classroom at the request of Professor Anita Moss to escort out a student who the professor said was misbehaving during class, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

A viral video and several posts on Twitter indicated that the student had propped her feet up on a chair during biology lecturer Anita Moss' class.

Even though an on line petition calling for the firing of  Moss in the wake of the incident has gathered thousands of signatures, an investigation by Howard Grimes, interim Dean of the UTSA College of Sciences, says that would not be a proper way to move forward.

"Dr. Grimes’s investigation also included a thorough review of the faculty member’s teaching evaluations and consideration of supportive student testimonials received via phone and email. The instructor has a very strong track record of positive student evaluations, and she had no prior incidents of classroom mismanagement," Eighmy wrote in a letter to the UTSA community. 

"Moreover, the students interviewed shared their opinions that the faculty member’s actions did not warrant her dismissal. Based on all this information, Dr. Grimes has concluded that the faculty member failed to manage her classroom and displayed poor judgment in her handling of Monday’s situation, but that her actions do not warrant termination.'

Eighmy said Dr. Moss has been relieved of her duties as an instructor for the remainder of the semester.'

Eighmy said an investigation by the University's Equal Opportunity Services office has shown that even though the student is African American and  Moss is White, racial bias did not enter into the incident.

"EOS conducted in-depth interviews with both the faculty member and the student, as well as an examination of social media posts and information submitted by email. EOS’s assessment, based primarily on the opinion of the student, is that racial bias was not a factor in the actions of the faculty member. Because the student feels the faculty member’s actions were not based in racial bias, she has elected not to file a formal complaint of discrimination with EOS regarding the incident."

Several students who claim they are in the class posted on social media that there had been negative interactions between the student and Moss in the past, and one said it appeared that when the student put her feet on the desk, it was 'intentionally showing disrespect' to the professor.

A flurry of bizarre incidents nationwide in which police were called on African Americans who were doing normal, legal things, like sitting in a Starbucks in Philadelphia or selling water on the streetcorner in San Francisco, have led to the racial side of the incident being 'blown out of proportion,' one student said.

Eighmy said he has met with the student, and she is receiving counseling and support through the University.

"Let me reiterate that the results of these investigations in no way diminish my firm commitment to the work we must do to create a more inclusive campus environment. After hearing from so many students, faculty and staff regarding their feelings of marginalization, disrespect and fear, I am more convinced than ever that this is a top priority for UTSA," Eighmy wrote.

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