News & Politics

Georgetown Law Prof Fired for Comments About Black Students

The conversation was accidentally recorded at the end of a Zoom lecture.

Georgetown University.

Georgetown Law adjunct professor Sandra Sellers has been fired for comments she made to a colleague, David Batson, about the academic performance of Black students. Batson has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the incident. “I am appalled that two members of our faculty engaged in a conversation that included reprehensible statements concerning the evaluation of Black students,” wrote Georgetown Law dean Bill Treanor in a statement about Sellers’ firing.

The comments were apparently captured accidentally in a recording of a Zoom lecture. After the class ended, the professors remained on the call and had a conversation about student performance. “I hate to say this,” Sellers reportedly says on the recording. “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.’ You get some really good ones, but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy.”

When the clip was put on Twitter this week and gained larger attention, Georgetown’s Black Law Students Association called for Sellers to be fired.

Treanor’s statement adds that the University will be taking further steps to address issues raised by this incident: “This is by no means the end of our work to address the many structural issues of racism reflected in this painful incident, including explicit and implicit bias, bystander responsibility, and the need for more comprehensive anti-bias training. This is a matter of great concern to me.” School officials will also be taking steps to ensure students in Sellers and Batson’s class are graded fairly.

According to the New York Times, Sellers penned a resignation letter before she was fired, writing that she is “deeply sorry for my hurtful and misdirected remarks.” The letter adds that “I would never do anything to intentionally hurt my students or Georgetown Law and wish I could take back my words. Regardless of my intent, I have done irreparable harm and I am truly sorry for this.”

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.