Georgetown Law professor fired for remarks on race recorded in Zoom call

A Georgetown Law professor was fired Thursday after what the school is calling racist remarks were recorded during a Zoom meeting and posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

Georgetown Law Dean Bill Treanor released an updated statement Thursday afternoon in which he said he was “appalled” by the conversation between now-terminated professor Sandra Sellers and professor David Batson, who has been placed on leave.

“I informed Professor Sellers that I was terminating her relationship with Georgetown Law effective immediately,” Treanor wrote.

“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. Professor Batson has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action, the results of which will inform our next steps. Until the completion of the investigation, Professor Batson will have no further involvement with the course in which the incident arose.”

In the Zoom call, Sellers, who is white, said she had “angst” every semester that “a lot of my lower ones are Blacks,” referring to how she graded student performance.

“I hate to say this. I ended up having this, you know, angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks. Happens almost every semester. And it’s like, ‘Oh, come on.’ You know. Get some really good ones but they’re also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy,” Sellers was recorded saying in a meeting with Batson.

“What drives me crazy is, you know, the concept of how that plays out. And whether that is, you know, my own perceptions playing in here and when certain, my own, you know, my own unconscious biases, you know, playing out in the scheme of things,” Batson responded.

The conversation was recorded by a student and posted to Twitter.

The Georgetown University Law Center Black Students Association, noting that Sellers thought she was on a private call, had earlier released a statement and petition calling for Sellers’ immediate termination.

“These racist statements reveal not only Sellers’ beliefs about Black students in her classes, but also how her racist thoughts have translated to racist actions. Professor Sellers’s bias has impacted the grades of Black students in her classes historically, in her own words,” the BLSA statement reads.

“We demand nothing short of the immediate termination of Sandra Sellers as adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Not suspension. Not an investigation. The University must take swift and definitive action in the face of blatant and shameless racism.”

The statement goes on to question how Black students are evaluated nationwide.

“Not only is this situation revealing of Sellers’ true beliefs about Black students, it is also illustrative of the conscious and unconscious bias systemically present in law school grading at Georgetown Law and in law school classrooms nationwide. The difference is that Sellers was caught and her racism was broadcast for the world to see.”

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up