Who is Sandra Sellers? ‘Racist’ law prof fired for saying Black students are ‘plain bottom of her class’ on Zoom

Even though she apologized for her comments, Georgetown Law fired her and her colleague Batson was placed on administrative leave


                            Who is Sandra Sellers? ‘Racist’ law prof fired for saying Black students are ‘plain bottom of her class’ on Zoom
Sandra Sellers (L) and Georgetown Law School (R) (American Bar Association, Facebook)

A 62-year-old professor from Georgetown Law has been fired over racist and offensive comments which she made during a Zoom call with colleague David Batson. Sandra Sellers, an adjunct professor in mediation at the esteemed law school was found complaining about the Black students in her class, proclaiming them to be at the bottom of the class. 

"You know what? I hate to say this, I end up having this angst every semester, that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks" she told Batson, unaware that their conversation was being recorded after the students had left the virtual class. The other professor, who did not correct Sellers and continued the racist conversation with her, has been placed on administrative leave. The incident came to light after the 43-second clip from the video recording was leaked on social media by a student, prompting the administration to take action at the earliest. Dean Bill Treanor later announced that the school has terminated its relationship with Sellers. Her faculty bio on the Georgetown Law website was also removed shortly afterward. In her resignation letter, however, Sellers apologized for her 'hurtful and misdirected remarks'. 



 

 

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Who is Sandra Sellers?

Sellers is a legal expert specializing in mediation and negotiation of intellectual property, domain name, software, contract and other business disputes, according to the American Bar Association. She heads the Virginia-based firm Technology Mediation Services. Sellers is also a member at the US District Court for the District of Columbia, on the panel of neutrals. She is also associated with US International Trade Commission, International Trademark Association, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center.

She joined Georgetown Law in 2003 as an adjunct professor of mediation and negotiation. She also taught at George Washington University Law School after joining the institution in 2010. She had also served as a Director of the International Trademark Association and chair of its ADR Committee in the past. 

The Zoom meeting was posted online on the student database Panopto with free access to the students. It was discovered and shared on social media by a student, who later removed it. However, it is unclear whether this student was the Black student being discussed by Sellers and Batson. 

Sandra Sellers (Twitter/Screengrab from Zoom Call)

"'They were a bit jumbled. It's like let me reason through that, what you just said," Sellers was heard saying about the Black students. After remarking that Black students had always been the 'lower ones', she added, "It happens almost every semester, and it's like, oh, come on. You know, we get some really good ones but there also usually some of them that are just plain at the bottom."

During the resignation, she apologized profusely, "I would never do anything to intentionally hurt my students or Georgetown Law and wish I could take back my words. Regardless of my intent, I have done irreparable harm and I am truly sorry for this."

Soon after the video clip went viral, Georgetown Black Law Student's Association (BLSA) released a statement demanding strict action against Sellers and Batson. 

Read the full statement here:



 

 

While Batson might not have explicitly been racist on the video, he did not disagree with Sellers and said, "What drives [him] crazy is...the concept of how that plays out in whether that is [his] own perceptions playing in here with certain people' or '[his] own unconscious biases playing out in the scheme of things'," assumingly speaking about the Black students in question. 

There was an uproar across social media demanding Sellers's termination. Users also highlighted the problem of racism in the field of law.

"This makes me angry. My dad was a Supreme court judge. His writings and involvements are still studied by law students 30 years after his death. Guess what, he was Black. Sandra Sellers might be stating something statistically true but she’s part of the problem. #BlackLivesMatter," one user wrote. Another elaborated, "If you need to add "I hate to say this, but..." before talking about Black students, then STOP right there because you're about to show off your true racist self. Minority students at @GeorgetownLaw deserve better than Prof. Sandra Sellers & others like her at the university!"



 



 

 

"I worked my whole life to get into Georgetown Law. Sandra Sellers has reduced my classmates and I to “blacks” the “lower ones.” She is in charge of the grading of black students. She must be immediately terminated," a student posted before Sellers was terminated officially.

Another user tweeted, "Law school is not easy. That’s true for almost everyone. It can also present unique challenges for POC. But law school becomes exponentially more difficult for Black students who have professors like Sandra Sellers, who seal their fate before the semester begins. #GeorgetownLaw."



 



 

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