Texas professor who called police on Black student for putting feet on chair suspended from classroom

UTSA thegrio.com

University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) professor Anita Moss is out of the classroom for the rest of the semester as the university investigates a video of her calling the police on a Black student allegedly for the “crime” of the student having her feet up on a chair during class.

The video, which went viral on Twitter earlier this week, shows UTSA police officers talking to Moss and then escorting the student out of the classroom without incident. The student is compliant and does not resist the officers’ commands.

A student in the class, Apurva Rawal, captured the situation on this phone and posted it to Twitter. Rawal said that the student in question was not being disruptive. “So this happened today in class, a girl had her feet up and the professor called the police after calling our class uncivil,” he wrote in the caption for the one-minute video.

“This professor stopped class entirely and stepped out to call the police just because one student had her feet up on a seat in front of her. Mind you she wasn’t talking or interrupting lecture,” he continued.

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The student being escorted out of the class responded to Rawal’s Twitter thread and thanked everyone for their support. “This is me in Anita Moss’ 2053 Bio classroom. Upon entering class I was told I needed to leave or would be escorted out by officers, I never disobeyed the student code of conduct. Not once. A police report is being filed atm, this is just the beginning. Thanks for your support,” she wrote.

The video of the incident caught fire on Twitter and as comments piled in, UTSA’s provost Kimberly Andrews Espy responded. “COS Interim Dean Howard Grimes and I both are aware of the video that was taken in a biology classroom earlier today. Creating a classroom environment that is conducive to learning is our priority, so we too are concerned and will respond accordingly when we learn more,” she posted.

An official response from the university was posted on Twitter yesterday. The professor who called the police will not be in the classroom as the investigation is conducted.

UTSA president Taylor Eighmy emailed the student body with updates about the incident and where the university is with the investigation. Eighmy underscored that the professor will not be teaching the class in question for the remainder of the semester and the student has been welcomed back into the classroom and offered supportive services. He also said that investigations will be completed next week and a decision will be made from there.

Eighmy wrote:

“The bottom line: regardless of the final outcomes regarding yesterday’s incident, we have an obligation as an institution to take a hard look at our campus climateespecially for students of color—and enact systemic change to make UTSA a more inclusive campus.

Eighmy also made three commitments:

  • We will re-double our efforts to examine how our students from underrepresented groups are treated inside and outside the classroom.
  • We will place a greater emphasis on safe reporting.
  • We need more faculty, staff and administrators of color on our campus.

Read the entire letter here.