NEW: Ball State Professor Who Called Police On Student In Class Won't Teach For Rest Of Semester

Jan 29, 2020

Ball State students gather in front of the Whitinger Business Building, the site of the class incident that has gone viral.
Credit Celia Lavoie

NEW:

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana university says a white professor accused of discrimination after he called university police to his classroom because a black student refused to change seats won't teach for the remainder of the semester.

The Star Press reports that Ball State University didn't provide specifics in its statement Thursday.

No formal charges or disciplinary action were immediately taken against Shaheen Borna in the wake of the Jan. 21 classroom incident.

The student who declined to switch seats, Sultan “Mufasa” Benson, says Borna's suspension is tantamount to a "slap on the wrist." Faculty are divided on whether to support Borna.

ORIGINAL POST: 

Hundreds of Ball State University students walked out of class Tuesday and met in the middle of campus to protest inequality.  This comes one week after a professor called police on a student in the middle of class for not changing seats.

 A snowy January morning didn’t stop hundreds of students from walking out of class.  For students like Cameron Green, this was an opportunity for students to be heard.

“The longer we put this off, the longer nothing’s gonna happen about it.”

Throughout the demonstration, person after person, telling their story.  At times emotional, especially for Sultan Benson, the student in the middle of it all.

“The bigger picture is being seen now.  It seems like more students are on board and not scared to share their stories.”

Benson wasn’t alone – in attendance, hundreds of his peers.

“I’m away from home.  I got my roommates, and I got everybody here.  I appreciate it.”

Also, Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns.  BSU and Mearns declined to talk Tuesday, but the president’s mere presence is one both Benson and former mayoral candidate Terry Whitt-Bailey says is progress.

Bailey: “We’ve got to remember that President Mearns is an ally, not only to the students and the staff, but to the community.  And we’re seeing that in the two years he has been here, he has reached out, he has been there, and he has made a difference.”

Benson: “Thank you for attending, and we understand that he’s not alone and he can’t make every change by himself, so I would never put him at fault.”

The demonstration also questioned the balance of power between professors and students.  Organizers say the professor, Shaheen Borna, violated university policies when the police were called, including falsely reporting an emergency.

Student Kwesi Rodgers says, “To think our tax dollars are being spent on a student refusing to change seats.  I just don’t think that’s where our money should be going to.”

And while Benson says he feels today’s walkout was a step in the right direction in a much bigger conversation, he’s waiting for more work to be done.

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