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Georgetown Law professor resigns over 'insensitive remarks' about Black students

David Batson’s resignation came after a video showing him and another faculty member discuss the performance of Black students went viral. The other professor seen in the video was fired.
Georgetown University
The campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

A second Georgetown University Law Center professor is leaving the school after a video of him and another faculty member discussing the performance of Black students in their class went viral.

David Batson, an adjunct professor, submitted his letter of resignation to law school Dean William Treanor on Friday, a day after he was placed on administrative leave Thursday.

Batson's resignation came after Georgetown Law professor Sandra Sellers, the other faculty member seen in the video, was fired Thursday.

"I am deeply saddened by the disturbing situation caused by the recorded Zoom conversation between Ms. Sellers and myself in which insensitive remarks were made regarding the performance of Black students at the Georgetown University Law Center," Batson said in his letter. "The sentiments and opinions expressed during the conversation are not mine, and do not characterize my experience with Georgetown students," he wrote.

In one clip of the video posted on Twitter, Sellers can be heard saying, “I hate to say this. I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks, happens almost every semester." Batson did not disagree or interject in the video.

Georgetown law professor Sandra Sellers during a Zoom call.
Georgetown law professor Sandra Sellers during a Zoom call.

Batson, in a second clip shared on Twitter, appeared to question his own unconscious bias.

The former professor appeared to address this instance in his resignation letter.

"When suddenly and unexpectedly faced with such remarks, it is challenging to know how to appropriately respond," he wrote. "In the moment, my heartfelt response was to point the discussion toward what I believe is our personal responsibility—to be aware of and respond to potential unconscious bias in all our undertakings.

"I understand, however, that I missed the chance to respond in a more direct manner to address the inappropriate content of those remarks," Batson said. "For this I sincerely apologize."

The original conversation between Sellers and Batson was filmed and posted to the online database Panopto, where students can access recordings. The video is no longer available on the platform.

In a memo Thursday, Treanor said, "I informed Professor Sellers that I was terminating her relationship with Georgetown Law effective immediately."

Sellers provided NBC News with a copy of what she called her resignation letter, in which she apologized for the comments and said she was committed to better understanding issues of racism.

"I would never do anything to intentionally hurt my students or Georgetown Law and wish I could take back my words," she said in the letter.

The university's Office of Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action is looking into the incident. The status of that investigation was unclear Saturday.

Maxine Walters, a third-year law student and president of the Georgetown University Law Center Black Law Student Association said that in the last year, the group has sent three letters to the university about racist incidents and suggesting racial sensitivity courses or trainings for students and professors.

“I believe that the only thing that's different here is that the professors were recorded,” Walters said, adding “this is definitely happening behind closed doors at our law school and other law schools.”

Treanor said in Thursday's memo that he will soon announce changes intended to address these issues, and that he will hold a listening session for Georgetown Law students to voice their concerns.