A Virginia Commonwealth University professor will not be teaching for the rest of the semester after he called security on a Black adjust professor who was eating breakfast in a classroom last month, NBC12 reports.
Caitlin Cherry, a known artist and a visiting professor at the school, says that she was in her assigned classroom eating when another professor, identified only as white-Hispanic, looked into the room. The male professor did not say anything to Cherry as he disappeared, but then shortly after security came into the room asking her who she was.
Cherry had her identification badge on her which she presented, acknowledging that she did not know what would have happened if it wasn’t on her that day.
Since then, students have been rallying behind the artist, demanding changes at the school centering around strengthening inclusion and diversity.
“Students have stopped going to his classes. I know that his TA’s quit,” senior Brianna Scott told the news station.
A sign was hanged outside the School of Arts building reading “PAPR (painting and printmaking) students support Caitlin Cherry.”
The university has taken the initiative to create a task force, along with other actions that it will take, to address the issue. Meanwhile, Cherry has been hired full-time to teach through the 2020 school year.
“When our core values of diversity and inclusion are impinged upon for some of us, then every one of us loses an opportunity for growth, learning and success,” said VCU President Mihael Rao in a letter sent to the entire university. “During the next few months, our university will take several steps to examine its culture and to ensure VCU is a community of accountability, fairness and justice.
Still students want more to be done, especially holding the male professor, who has not been formally identified by the school due to personnel privacy laws, accountable.
“We do want VCU to take some sort of accountability. We do want accountability from the professor. We would like him to apologize.” Scott insisted. “He thought that she didn’t belong in that room. Didn’t even give her the benefit of the doubt. Didn’t even speak to her. I think that was the most frustrating thing for her.”
Scott interviewed Cherry about the incident, writing an article in RVA Magazine about it, and also passed out flyers to raise awareness.