Georgetown Law students have blasted the university’s response to a professor caught on video criticizing black students — dismissing it as “performative allyship,” while alleging an entrenched culture of overlooking racism.
Multiple Georgetown University Law Center students with “firsthand knowledge” of the matter told Slate Thursday that a student reported the clip showing a conversation between adjunct professors Sandra Sellers and David Batson to administrators on Monday — some two days before Dean William Treanor addressed the “abhorrent” footage publicly.
One first-year black student, who requested she not be identified out of fear of reprisal, said she “wasn’t surprised” by the hurtful clip and is disheartened by Treanor’s delayed response.
“I am not surprised by the racism exhibited by the university’s law professors,” the student told the outlet, adding that she was aware administrators were privy to the controversial clip for days before the dean’s statement.
“Georgetown only cares when there’s widespread national response,” the student continued, saying she was “deeply unimpressed” by what she characterized as Treanor’s “performative allyship” of inclusivity.
“This was not the first complaint about such racist comments from this professor and others,” the student said without elaborating.
A third-year Georgetown Law student also agreed that Treanor failed to act quickly enough, accusing law school brass of recklessly disregarding the “concerns of minority and first-generation students,” according to the report.
“It’s always damage control with this administration,” the student said. “There are some incredible professors and staff here who do amazing work in the areas of race and gender and civil rights. But at higher levels, the only thing they care about is how many new centers and institutes they open, never any concern about common student issues.”
A message seeking comment from Treanor and Georgetown Law’s Office of Communications was not immediately returned Friday.
“I found this whole situation pretty discouraging,” said another black first-year law student identified only as Vanessa.
“I fear that many of our professors might be evaluating us from a racist perspective and without evidence like this. And we just have to live with the consequences.”
The students also noted that Treanor didn’t denounce Sellers’ comments until after the Georgetown Black Law Students Association called for her immediate termination and an apology from Batson for not condemning her views.
“You know what? I hate to say this,” Sellers said on the clip posted to Twitter Wednesday. “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 usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy.”
Batson — who is now on administrative leave — apparently nodded in agreement, the footage shows.
Hassan Ahmad, a Georgetown Law student who posted the exchange on Twitter, said Treanor’s first statement acknowledged that administrators learned about it “earlier this week,” but it took a “public outcry” and a petition to launch an investigation into the matter.
Sellers, meanwhile, said she told Treanor she intended to resign over the “irreparable harm” caused by her action. She provided The Post with her resignation letter when reached for comment Friday.
“I want all my students to excel in negotiation and mediation, which is why I have taught these courses at Georgetown for almost 20 years,” the letter read. “When this does not occur, it reflects shortcomings on my part, not just on the part of any single student.”