Christopher Trogan, a professor in the English department at the Fordham University, was fired after confusing the names of two Black students in his class, in what he called an “innocent mistake,” according to The Observer.
The two students whose names were confused sent an email to Trogan, voicing how disrespected they felt. They also believed the confusion occurred because both students were Black.
From The Observer:
He referred to the name mix-up as an “innocent mistake” and said he had a “confused brain” because the two students arrived late while he was reading the work of another student at the lecturer podium.
“The offended student assumed my mistake was because I confused that student with another Black student,” Trogan said in his email to students. “I have done my best to validate and reassure the offended student that I made a simple, human, error. It has nothing to do with race.”
One of the first-year students who was involved in the name mix-up incident said their experience in Trogan’s class prior to the incident was not great. The student, who asked to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns, told The Observer that Trogan repeatedly got their name incorrect over the course of four classes.
“I felt really disrespected,” they said. “I did not feel heard because every time he (misnamed me) I would tell him, and it just seemed like he would brush it off or that he did not care.”
I don’t mean to generalize, but I think most Black people have been called another name by ... their own mother . I am not saying the students are wrong. I am just saying this is not a straightforward case.
Trogan himself asked students to share any problems or complaints they have had with him to the Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center and other administrators per the report from The Observer.
The other student involved in the name confusion was Chantel Sims, and she felt that a lot of what Trogan voiced in the email to students was irrelevant and did not need to be in the email he sent to students.
From The Observer:
“It seemed a little excessive, like all you needed to do, was say sorry and it would have been fine,” she said. “We were not actually that upset about him mixing up our names. It was more so the random things he would throw into the response.”
In the email to students, Trogan assured students the course was “centered specifically and explicitly around issues of justice, equality, and inclusion,” and that he has devoted his “entire life” to these issues — describing his dedication to racial justice throughout his career in depth.
Sims said the section of the email that listed his credentials and “everything he has done for minorities” gave her the impression of a white savior complex. The other first-year student interviewed by The Observer agreed with this assessment.
What do you think? Was Trogan rightfully fired or were the students too sensitive?