Instructor: MCTC rescinds reprimand over racial row

The note below just came in from Minneapolis Community and Technical College instructor Shannon Gibney, who last fall appealed a reprimand over how she handled a heated discussion of race with three white students.

I’ll try to get some MCTC comment/verification. (Update: MCTC officials say state privacy laws prevent them from commenting on the case.)

First, here’s the letter she discusses:

I just received a letter from MCTC and President Davis, stating the following:

“I have decided to rescind the written reprimand you received on October 31, 2013, effective today. I wish you well on your sabbatical.”

This means that as of today, exactly one week from my union-sponsored Arbitration hearing, I will no longer have any disciplinary action from the college in my permanent file with regards to the incident last fall in which the college determined that I discriminated against two white males students during a discussion of structural racism in a Mass Communications class.

However, as far as I know, the college’s determination that I violated its 1B1 policy *by discriminating against two white males students*, which is meant to protect all members of the community’s protected class status, is still in place. We are still investigating what remedies, if any, might exist to expunge this, as well.

So, the discipline no longer being in place is progress, but it is far from everything.

This last minute removal of the letter of reprimand, especially if it is a full expungement, after all of President Davis’ and the Chancellor Rosenstone’s public claims that I deserved the letter of reprimand and that the press and everyone else didn’t know all the facts, now rings completely hollow. And the harm that this caused my reputation, institutional ethos, and authority in the classroom — as well as the stress it inflicted on me and my family, can never really be repaired. So, anyone who advances the “no harm was done here” narrative is absolutely wrong.

The deeper questions of ongoing institutional racism in MCTC and throughout the MnSCU system — especially for employees and students of color — still demand real and systemic attention and redress, however my case ends or develops. And this whole experience has left me with no faith in the system’s ability to correct itself, especially since I was offered a buy-out at one point in the Grievance process if I would simply leave MCTC altogether (of course, I declined).

Expect more writing on this from me and others in the near future.

Words can truly not begin to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who stood by me, many of whom were complete strangers, through all of this. It has truly been one of most difficult and painful periods of my life. But community support has brought me to the other side. If there is one thing that I truly believe in, it is that.

  • Joe

    As a white male, I feel discriminated against when someone tells me that I do not understand institutionalized racism because I feel uncomfortable when the concept of racism is acknowledged.

  • bubba reese

    So all we got here was her letter and no reporting. This is one of ther reasons people perceive MPR as a left wing liberal organ.

    • Joe

      Yeah, why didn’t MPR sift it through some sort of lens to tell me what to think about her letter? Such bias!
      Unless, it isn’t really her letter….

  • adamh2o

    So she is basically admitting that only people in the “protected class” can complain about discrimination, which pretty much means everyone except white males. You can discriminate against them as much as you want and not be held accountable. Yeah, shove it where the sun don’t shine.

    • newhouse

      WTF are you taking about? Her statement was that the policy MCTC accused her of violating exists to insure the college community’s status as a “protected class” remains intact. As a matter of law, white males are not members of a “protected class” and therefore, she is correct that the policy in question doesn’t apply to the situation. Maintaining or regaining control of one’s classroom is NOT discrimination. If students behave in a way so that a class cannot continue and the rest of the students cannot receive instruction, those disrupting should be removed period.

      • Jack

        How is “protected class” not a form of racism?!

  • Tim

    Regardless of this instructor’s conduct, the answer to correct institutional rasism isn’t the suppression of white males. That in itself is rasism.

  • Truth Hurts Don’t It

    white men are a bunch of whiney assed cry babies. They inflict all sorts of damage through the ages and across the globe and when somebody calls them on it, they get all upset. Get over your stupid selves.

    • Jack

      Hmmm…let me guess

  • Joe

    Is that last phrase in the letter a typo, a reporting error, or some kind of deeper message about the connotation of the English word “is” and the concept of belief? She does begin the sentence with the phrase “If there is,” after all. What if there ISN’T an is?

  • Jack

    I’d like to let you know that the race card is not limited to just those of “color”. In today’s “politically correct” world as a white male there is also discrimination occurring. I applied for a job of which no persons of color applied, how I know this…because I know people. I interviewed multiple times for the job and was about to be offered the position; only to be turned away by the administrator based upon “a need for diversity in the business” despite me being a Veteran. Should I file a discrimination case?

  • Ryan

    The college should definitely should not have given here the specific punishment that she received. I think it went way overboard in its response. But she clearly handled the classroom situation and its aftermath in a less than professional manner. Those students overreacted to be sure. Surely she could have done better to de-escalate the situation. In her video about it she talks about the students being “out to get her from the beginning” or something to that effect. Not exactly the type of mindset a professional instructor should ever have about their students, and definitely not the attitude to have going into a confrontation. I think her predisposition to this attitude is what made this a much larger issue than it needed to be.

    The students should probably grow up and realize that they do play a part in the problems expressed by the student presentation they found troubling and the college’s response was over the top and completely inappropriate for the infraction. But Gibney let her personal views cloud her ability to manage her classroom properly. It was just poor instruction on her part. That is what the college should have reacted to, that and the fact that she was all too eager to talk to media about the incident.