UPenn Teaching Assistant Who Prioritized Students by Race, Gender Pulled from Classroom

University of Pennsylvania teaching assistant Stephanie McKellop will not be teaching this spring semester after she came under fire for a tweet in which she bragged about hesitating to call on “white men.”

“I will always call on my Black women students first. Other POC get second tier priority. WW [white women] come next. And, if I have to, white men,” University of Pennsylvania teaching assistant Stephanie McKellop wrote in a tweet published in October.

After an immediate backlash over the tweet, Steven J. Fluharty, the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, announced that he was launching an investigation into McKellop’s teaching practices.

The university’s policies prohibiting discrimination are intended to reinforce our commitment to equity and inclusion. We are looking into the current matter involving a graduate-student teaching assistant to ensure that our students were not subjected to discriminatory practices in the classroom and to ensure that all of our students feel heard and equally engaged. Contrary to some reports, the graduate student has not been removed from the program, and we have and will continue to respect and protect the graduate student’s right to due process.

This week, McKellop announced that administrators had decided that she would not be returning to the classroom as a teaching assistant for the spring semester. “As I won’t be teaching next semester due to some admin Choices, any ideas about how to stay teaching-adjacent? What can I do, get involved in, invest in about teaching & helping the undergrads,” McKellop said in a tweet. After she was asked if she made the decision to leave the classroom, she replied, “no.”

In an interview with the College Fix, McKellop tried to claim that the decision was made solely because the university had bestowed upon her a “promotion.”

“It is part of a history Ph.D. process to take comprehensive exams, and mine are coming up. That means I will become a Ph.D. candidate, a promotion in my status,” she explained. “I’ve been asked to do research for my dissertation. Teaching will resume in the fall.”

Although many academics defended McKellop and the practice of “progressive stacking” at the time of the initial controversy, former Evergreen State College professor Bret Weinstein blasted her, arguing that “this ends with a massive loss for actual social justice equity and harmony.”

 


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