Boston University sociology professor Saida Grundy, like many, is fairly vocal on social media about her political and social beliefs, and she enjoys posting controversial articles and statements with which not everyone necessarily agrees.
Referring to white males as a “problem population,” Grundy came under fire when University of Massachusetts Amherst student Nick Pappas discovered the tweets, according to The Washington Times, and questioned how someone who could be so hostile in regards to racial issues on social media can teach in an environment as diverse as Boston University.
Now, Grundy is under fire yet again for allegedly harassing a white survivor of rape, Meghan Chamberlin, on Facebook.
“I LITERALLY cry and lose sleep over this,” Chamberlin wrote when admitting that she had been raped as a child, according to National Review. “What this article did was tell me that I’m not aloud [sic] to ask for help… Because I am a WHITE woman… So when I read this article… You do understand what that does to me, right? It kills me…”
“‘I literally cry’… While we literally die,” Grundy replied. “Try this article. A white woman explaining this issue to other white women… who manages NOT to cry while doing it!”
Chamberlin then responded: “No really. I got it. You can take your claws out, thanks.”
“^^ THIS IS THE S**T I AM TALKING ABOUT,” Grundy finally retaliated. “WHY DO YOU GET TO PLAY THE VICTIM EVERY TIME PEOPLE OF COLOR AND OUR ALLIES WANT TO POINT OUT RACISM. my CLAWS?? Do you see how you just took an issue that WASNT about you, MADE it about you, and NOW want to play the victim when I take the time to explain to you some s**t that is literally $82,000 below my pay grade? And then you promote your #whitegirltears like that’s some badge you get to wear… YOU BENEFIT FROM RACISM. WE’RE EXPLAINING THAT TO YOU and you’re vilifying my act of intellectual altruism by saying i stuck my ‘claws’ into you?”
Ideally, social media should be considered much more private than a professional setting. How you conduct yourself on social media should be held to a different standard than how you conduct yourself in a professional setting. Sadly, this isn’t always the case, and the way professors conduct themselves outside the classroom can alienate the students they’re supposed to teach.
In this case, it doesn’t matter how accurate Grundy’s statements were—the way she lashed out at the people who dared to express an opinion that differed from her own makes her unapproachable in an academic setting. Not every student is going to agree on the same issues, especially in campuses as diverse as BU’s. It’s important that students and faculty alike are able to respectfully express their opinions without fear of patronization and retaliation.
Last year, our school faced a similar situation. Dr. Mireille Miller-Young, a feminist studies professor with an emphasis in black cultural studies and pornography and sex work, interrupted a demonstration by Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, a Christian pro-life organization that protests abortion by displaying graphic and bloody images of late term abortions. Feeling triggered by the images the organization displayed, Miller-Young confronted two protesters and confiscated one of their signs. The ensuing altercation, which was recorded and later posted online, resulted in Miller-Young leaving deep scratches on the arm of one of the protesters in her haste to escape.
If professors behave so belligerently to people outside the classroom, who is to say they won’t do the same to their own students? Subjects like sociology and feminist studies, where controversial topics are commonplace, require discussion, but this discussion will be impossible if the students are too afraid of the professor’s wrath to challenge them on their beliefs.
Instead, students need a safe space where they can freely, respectfully discuss their opinions, even if they may differ, without being shut down or dehumanized. Above all, respect is absolutely essential in situations like these.