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Georgetown Law professor fired for comments on Black students' performance

Some students had called for the termination of Sandra Sellers after a recording of a conversation she had with another professor went viral.
Image: Georgetown University
A view of Georgetown University's campus in Washington, D.C., in 2018.Daniel Slim / AFP - Getty Images file

Georgetown Law professor Sandra Sellers, who was captured on video discussing the performance of Black students, is no longer affiliated with the university, the law school dean said Thursday.

Georgetown University Law students and alumni had called for the professor's firing after a video of two Georgetown Law professors discussing the performance of Black students in their class went viral. A petition by the university's Black Law Student Association demanding the school take action and terminate the professor had collected more than 1,000 signatures.

In the video, Sellers can be heard saying, “I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks, happens almost every semester." A second professor, David Baston, did not disagree or interject in the video.

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

“We learned earlier this week that two members of our faculty engaged in a conversation that included reprehensible statements concerning the evaluation of Black students,” Georgetown Law Dean Bill Treanor said Wednesday in a letter to the university.

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

Earlier in the week, Treanor said the university's diversity and equity office had opened an investigation into the matter.

"Professor Batson has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action, the results of which will inform our next steps," Treanor wrote.

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.

Maxine Walters, a third-year law student and president of the Georgetown University Law Center Black Law Student Association said in an interview 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.