Petition calls for firing of UTSA professor accused of calling police on student

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - A petition calling for the firing of a University of Texas at San Antonio professor accused of calling police on a student has garnered more than 4,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

READ THE PETITION HERE

On Monday, an African-American student was escorted out of class by police when her professor, Anita Moss, called police on her, one witness claimed.

Apurva Rawal, a UTSA student who was in the class at the time of the incident, posted video of the student being escorted out of class to Twitter and said that the professor called campus police on the student for having her feet up in class.

"Mind you she wasn't talking or interrupting lecture," Rawal said.

Rawal said that the professor "went on a whole tirade about how uncivil we all were because a few students were on their phone or not paying attention."

That's when the professor stepped out of class to call police on the female student, Rawal said.

A woman retweeted Rawal's video and identified herself as the student who was escorted out of class, saying she was told to leave or she would be escorted out by officers.

"I never disobeyed the student code of conduct. Not once," she wrote. Additionally, the student said she is filing a police report of her own on the incident.

The student who was escorted out of class and Moss both met with university officials separately. 

UTSA president Taylor Eighmy said Tuesday that Moss' course will be taught by another faculty member for the remainder of the semester. The student who was escorted out of class by police was "welcomed back to class and offered support services."

Eighmy said there are two ongoing investigations into the incident: one by the Office of Equal Opportunity Services to determine whether the incident occurred as a result of discrimination and another by the Provost's Office and interim dean of the College of Sciences to explore how the classroom was managed.

Eighmy said Tuesday that no matter the outcome of the investigations, "We have an obligation as an institution to take a hard look at our campus climate." Additionally, Eighmy said "appropriate administrative action will be determined" at the conclusion of the investigation.

The petition calling for Moss' dismissal claims the incident is part of "a wave of recent incidents of white people calling the police on black and brown people simply for existing."

Some have come to the defense of the professor on social media, saying the student should have followed instructions.

"If a professor asks you to follow the rules of etiquette in her class, then do it," Susan Ponce wrote. "So sorry this happened to you but it is ridiculous. The point of going to college is to prepare for the outside world. To learn and move forward in the game of life."

Others felt it was a waste of resources to have police remove the student from the class and that it's not the professor's job to "teach manners."

"It’s college. The professor gets paid whether students pay attention or not and even when they put their feet up," Sherri Reyna Saenz said. "Professors aren’t there to teach manners. If the student wasn’t disrupting the class the professor should’ve just let it go. Who really cares! Go on with your lesson. It certainly was not an offense that warranted calling campus police."

It's still unclear what led up to the student being escorted out of class. Rawal's video only captures the aftermath.

Another student posted a video of the incident from a different angle stating that the student was asked to leave Monday because she put her feet up on Friday.

The student, who goes by Judith on Twitter, stated that when the professor asked the woman to put her feet down on Friday, she complied. Judith said that the student was escorted out of class on Monday for her actions on Friday.

"Calling the cops on a day she didn't even do that is a little too extreme," Judith wrote in response to someone on Twitter.

The student said she doesn't believe Moss discriminated against the woman and that Moss has had "several encounters with the student in question due to classroom civility."

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