Boston University’s Equal Opportunity Office (EOO) found evidence to support the claim that retired Boston University lecturer Geoffrey Carliner discriminated against his Asian students, an allegation Carliner continues to deny.
A student from Carliner’s Economics of Less-Developed Regions class claimed that the professor was “making [Asian students] feel uncomfortable, offended and unable to participate fully or attend class,” according to The Daily Free Press.
Carliner allegedly assumed his Asian or Asian American students’ ethnicities based on their last names. The student also claimed that Carliner would call on Asian students to answer questions regarding China’s policies.
“I don’t think I discriminated,” Carliner said, according to The Daily Free Press. “I, of course, did not mean to make anybody feel uncomfortable. I think it’s political correctness gone amok to fire me for what happened in my economics class last spring.”
On May 6, 2021, he emailed his students “asking students to email the investigator assigned to the case and inform them on whether he displayed improper behavior in class or if his class stimulated useful discussions,” according to The Daily Free Press. The Dean of Arts and Sciences Stan Sclaroff issued a warning to Carliner, urging him to avoid discussing the investigation with students.
On Monday, however, Carliner sent another email to inform his students that the University did not renew his contract after the investigation found a “preponderance of evidence” supporting the student’s claims of discrimination in the classroom.
“It’s total hypocrisy on the part of the BU. It is not retaliation,” Carliner stated. “I didn’t punish any student. I didn’t do anything harmful to any student by asking them to write the email. Easy enough for them to ignore my email, most of them did.”
There were 26 students out of 64 who emailed the EOO, and only two students confirmed the claims against Carliner.
“I was a little bit confused when I received that email when the professor said someone reported him as discrimination,” junior student Jennifer Wang said, according to The Daily Free Press. “I liked the class and I think I learned a lot from it, I just didn’t feel anything about discrimination overall.”
“Based upon these facts and logical factors, I can assure that Professor Carliner’s mistake is not an act of discrimination but simply a misidentification of one specific student,” another Asian student wrote.
“If only one person complains, and then they made our investigation on it, and then that person’s friend also made a complaint about it. Then the professor is going to be fired,” junior student Bo Peng stated. “So we can do that to every professor in every class, which is a policy that’s unfair to everyone.”
Dean Sclaroff reportedly wrote in an email to The Daily Free Press that the college remained committed to building an environment where “all can learn and thrive.” The Daily also reported that the EOO declined to provide any details about the investigation in order to “[protect] the integrity of the investigative process and involved parties’ privacy.”