Journalism students at New York University have a lot to say about the former Teen Vogue columnist turned progressive political commentator, Lauren Duca, who allegedly belittled and yelled at students while teaching her “feminist” class as a visiting scholar at NYU. “They’re fucking corny,” said Duca of her students, expressing her dismay over receiving criticism “for putting Twitter on my syllabus.”
A BuzzFeed News profile on Lauren Duca exposes the agonizing experience that virtually every student had while taking her summer course at NYU. The course, entitled, “The Feminist Journalist,” resulted in students filing a formal complaint to the heads of NYU’s journalism school regarding Duca’s behavior.
“In her short professional life, Duca has been held up as both a feminist icon of her generation and a phony quasi-journalist who has taken advantage of a few lucky moments in her life,” writes BuzzFeed’s Scaachi Koul of Duca, adding that she has since become “one of the most recognizable faces among a specific type of progressive white feminist, pussyhat-wearing activist-journalist.”
One student said they were excited to take Duca’s course, in part, because it meant being “up close with somebody who’s Twitter famous.” But the report noted that most students acknowledged that their experience in Duca’s class had been a major letdown.
Koul, who was able to “sit in” on one of Duca’s classes at NYU, said that days later, she had received emails — unsolicited — from students wanting to talk about their experiences in her class. At least ten students spoke to Koul, five of them on record.
Each student who spoke to BuzzFeed divulged similar accusations against Duca, which included speaking “often and inappropriately about her personal life,” as well as belittling and yelling at her students.
“It was an interesting experience to say the least,” one student wrote to Koul. “Her ability to exploit the movement is really frustrating,” mentioned another student. “In a way,” said a third student, “she is that ‘worst idea’ that conservatives think liberals are.”
One student also expressed frustration over how Duca “can so clearly take advantage of the system and capitalize on her supposed wokeness while not practicing what she’s writing about.”
In other words, the self-proclaimed feminist does not practice what she preaches.
“I think that they’re fucking corny,” Duca told BuzzFeed of her students. “They’re making fun of me — for putting Twitter on my syllabus — on Twitter, which is the only place they have a voice.”
The report added that Duca’s syllabus had required students to tweet for 20 percent of their grade. The syllabus also seemed to be heavily focused on her personal branding.
Students who spoke to Koul also mentioned that Duca “would vanish for 30 to 45 minutes per class to ‘meditate.'” Duca insists, however, that her mediation breaks had only lasted fifteen minutes.
“It’s okay if I’m not a great teacher because I’m great at lots of other things,” said Duca in response to the allegations made by students.
One particularly glaring issue, however, was how each student concurred that Duca had continuously and unfairly chastised a foreign exchange student in her class. The students allege that Duca refused to accept the foreign student’s assignments, referred to her work “basic” and “vague,” made her cry, and stated that she “won’t have a lot say” during class presentations.
“Her English wasn’t perfect but that’s hard,” said one student of the foreign exchange student that Duca had allegedly targeted. “She came from another country. She was very courageous for taking this class.”
After the course ended, Duca’s students filed a formal complaint with NYU’s Journalism Institute director, Ted Conover and associate director, Meredith Broussard.
“There was a consistent lack of professionalism that persisted throughout every aspect of the course,” read the students’ letter. “We are disappointed at the department and NYU as an institution for hiring a professor without a syllabus and classroom management skills. We are disappointed at the department and NYU for hiring a professor without a clear course objective.”
The complaint also noted that Duca “consistently targeted this student on the basis of a communication difficulty the student cannot change,” appearing to coincide with the students who spoke to Koul regarding Duca’s treatment of the foreign exchange student.
“I guess I’m not a teacher,” said Duca at first, reacting to the students’ complaint.
“You should put in there that my tone was expressly pissed off and frustrated,” added Duca after being asked to comment about the specifics of the complaint. “You’re being so fucking hard on me, Scaachi, and I really, really, really, really would ask you if you would be grilling a man in this same way. It’s amazing.”
“Congratulations, you thrillingly, thrillingly adept journalist, you have discovered that Lauren Duca is not perfect,” conceded Duca, eventually.
“Put it in the headline, baby,” she added.
Koul concluded that Duca has since unfollowed her on Twitter — the platform in which the BuzzFeed reporter first reached out to her for media inquiries.