Students at Ball State University Staged Walkout to Protest Professor Calling Cops

Illustration for article titled Students at Ball State University Staged Walkout to Protest Professor Calling Cops
Photo: Ball State University

Last week, a professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., came under fire after video was released of him calling the cops on a student for not switching seats mid-lecture. Unsatisfied with the university’s response, students have decided to take action.


According to the Star Press, on Tuesday, hundreds of students staged a walkout in protest of Professor Shaheen Borna’s actions and what they feel was a weak response by the university. The students carried protest signs and chanted “Change now, change now.” In addition to students, some faculty members, including BSU President Geoffrey S. Mearns attended the rally to hear the concerns and demands from the students. It should be noted that over 100 faculty members have signed a letter condemning Borna’s actions, calling them “either an ignorance of or disregard for a national context where the over-policing of black communities and the criminalization of black children has been extended into every day life.”

Lauren Reynolds, one of the organizers behind the protest, told the crowd that their demands were for Borna to retire early and do community service as well as for faculty to receive mandatory diversity and conflict training and for a student committee to be formed to respond to future situations. Sultan Benson, the student the professor called the cops on, took the stage and spoke to the crowd. He detailed how the event made him feel like “another statistic” and expressed his disbelief and frustration on a professor calling the cops on a student trying to learn. Kwesi Rogers, another one of the organizers, made a case for Borna’s firing and ended his remarks with “At least they didn’t kill us this time, so I guess we won this one.”

I am a bit surprised that the university hasn’t really disciplined Borna. He put one of his students in danger, plain and simple. You have to have been living under a rock not to know the current state of things between young black men and the police (i.e: they kill us.) No matter how this ended the professor was seeking to inflict trauma upon one of his students. I know personally I would have trouble trusting a professor with a record of calling the cops on students over bullshit.

Benson is set to meet with President Mearns later this week so we’ll see what, if anything, will occur as a result.

The stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, wheelin' and dealin' nerd of The Root.


Students in Borna’s class have assigned seats. Benson’s was on the second row. He said he arrived two minutes before class started to find another student sitting in his seat. The professor told Benson to take a seat in the back. It was near an electrical socket, so Benson plugged in his laptop. Later, after another student sitting in the front row left the classroom, Benson was instructed to take that seat.

“I was not acting out, I was not talking on my cell phone, I was learning, I was following the lesson plan,” said Benson, who declined to move seats because his computer was still charging.

WtF? How many Root readers have graduated from college? Lots, I’ll bet. I have myself and I never had assigned seats for lectures*. The very suggestion would have been laughed out of the room and off the campus. And calling the cops? I’d be embarrassed to tell them I called them to make a student move seats. What a petty tyrant...I’ll bet his grade distributions show only obsequious sycophants get As.
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*Excepting one final as an anti-cheating measure detailed in the syllabus fifteen weeks in advance.