Remember Professor Shannon Gibney at MCTC? She’s been officially un-reprimanded!
Gibney was the target of complaints from two white students, who said they felt victimized by her classroom discussion of structural racism. A short summary from Sheila Regan’s article back in December:
Then, according to City College Air, two more white students continued the disruption. “Then there was another white male student near him, who was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t get this either. It’s like people are trying to say that white men are always the villains, the bad guys,’” said Gibney. “I tried to say- ‘You guys are taking it personally- this is… this is not a personal attack- this is not about all white people, you white people in general. We’re talking about whiteness as a system of oppression. And so I’m quite familiar, unfortunately, with how that works and how the institutional structures and powers re-enforce this white male supremacy basically. And that sort of narrative and that way of seeing the world.”
Gibney told the students if they were really upset, they could go to legal affairs and file a racial harassment discrimination complaint, and they did as she said. Soon, Gibney was called into an investigatory meeting with a union representative, a school administrator and the school lawyer, and after that meeting, she received a reprimand from Lois Bollman, the Vice President of Academic Affairs:
Well — as Gibney prepares to go on a well-deserved sabbatical, she got a letter from MCTC and the college president. Here’s her email telling all about it:
I just received a letter from MCTC and President Davis, stating the following:
“I have decided to rescind the written reprimand you received on October 31, 2013, effective today. I wish you well on your sabbatical.”
This means that as of today, exactly one week from my union-sponsored Arbitration hearing, I will no longer have any disciplinary action from the college in my permanent file with regards to the incident last fall in which the college determined that I discriminated against two white males students during a discussion of structural racism in a Mass Communications class.
However, as far as I know, the college’s determination that I violated its 1B1 policy *by discriminating against two white males students*, which is meant to protect all members of the community’s protected class status, is still in place. We are still investigating what remedies, if any, might exist to expunge this, as well.
So, the discipline no longer being in place is progress, but it is far from everything.
This last minute removal of the letter of reprimand, especially if it is a full expungement, after all of President Davis’ and the Chancellor Rosenstone’s public claims that I deserved the letter of reprimand and that the press and everyone else didn’t know all the facts, now rings completely hollow. And the harm that this caused my reputation, institutional ethos, and authority in the classroom — as well as the stress it inflicted on me and my family, can never really be repaired. So, anyone who advances the “no harm was done here” narrative is absolutely wrong.
The deeper questions of ongoing institutional racism in MCTC and throughout the MnSCU system — especially for employees and students of color — still demand real and systemic attention and redress, however my case ends or develops. And this whole experience has left me with no faith in the system’s ability to correct itself, especially since I was offered a buy-out at one point in the Grievance process if I would simply leave MCTC altogether (of course, I declined).
Expect more writing on this from me and others in the near future.
Words can truly not begin to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who stood by me, many of whom were complete strangers, through all of this. It has truly been one of most difficult and painful periods of my life. But community support has brought me to the other side. If there is one thing that I truly believe in, it is this.
I’m looking forward to reading what she has to say from the well-deserved space of her sabbatical.