Three students at a Minneapolis college filed a successful racial discrimination complaint against their professor. It may not sound unusual, but the students are white and the professor is African-American The students at Minnesota Community and Technical College reportedly objected to a lecture on structural racism from their professor, Shannon Gibney. After filing a formal complaint, Gibney was eventually reprimanded by university officials, but she has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the college in process.
Gibney said the lesson was part of her Intro to Mass Communication class and had been in her curriculum for years, but that one of the students reacted in a hostile manner by asking why “they have to talk about this in every class.” She said the student was “taking it personally” and tried to explain that “this is unfortunately the context of 21st century America.” The English professor said she was shocked by the situation and tried to remain “as reasonable as I could given the fact I was interrupted and put on the spot in the middle of class.”
But when two other students echoed his frustrations and accused her of “trying to say that white men are always the villains, the bad guys,” while still continuing to interrupt her lesson, Gibney finally told them they could file a formal complaint with the school’s legal affairs department if they felt there was an issue. When the students did this, she was formally reprimanded by the school’s vice president of academic affairs for creating a “hostile learning environment.”
Based on this and other reported instances, Gibney and six other teachers at the university have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the college, claiming that it is a discriminatory workplace. The University has not publicly commented on the lawsuit or indicated whether Gibney will continue teaching there next semester.