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Professor suspended a second time allegedly for requiring respectful class conduct

Media are spinning the story, students claim

Students at the University of Texas at San Antonio are rallying behind a professor there after she was suspended a second time allegedly for demanding respectful conduct while in her classroom.

The school suspended biology professor Anita Moss last semester after she called the police on a black student resting her feet on a chair. Moss was known to demand respectful behavior from students in her classroom, including “keeping their feet off chairs, putting away their phones and not talking.”

Though many presumed the incident was racially charged, a school investigation determined race was not a factor in Moss calling the police.

Now the school has suspended Moss again. The student newspaper The Paisano reported that Moss was yanked from the classroom due to “a new concern regarding classroom management.”

Reached for comment via email, campus spokesman Joe Izbrand provided The College Fix with a statement from Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Epsy: “A preliminary inquiry revealed that despite persistent and substantive intervention, there remain persistent concerns with Dr. Moss’ classroom management that warrant her relief from all instructional responsibilities at this time.”

Izbrand said that the school cannot comment on the “ongoing investigation” regarding Moss’s conduct. But MySanAntonia.com reported that faculty members had complained that Moss’s current syllabus, which forbid behaviors such as “placing your legs or feet on the classroom furniture,” was cause for concern.

Students rally in support of Moss

In response to Moss’s second suspension, Jenna Wells, a student at the university, started a petition urging the university to reinstate Moss.

The petition, created on the website Change.org, has so far been signed by over 600 individuals and includes many testimonies as to why Moss deserves to be reinstated.

“The university ensured us that the events from last semester had been resolved, however they are resurfacing as she is being deemed unfit to lead and control her classroom,” Wells states on the website.

“We the students disagree and would like to see her reinstated to her position as our A&P 1 professor.”

Wells said the students have moved past the previous incident and “find it unfair that the university waited until the week after school started to dismiss her without any warning or explanation to her classes.” Wells did not respond to a request for comment from The Fix in time for publication.

This is the second petition students created in response to Moss’s suspensions. In response to the controversy last semester, Priyanka Bhika, a student at the university, started a petition telling the university not to fire Moss.

That petition, also hosted on Change.org, garnered over 600 signatures and includes many testimonies as to why Moss deserves to stay at the university.

“I’ve had her for 3 semesters and she was the sweetest to me and everyone else who asked for help. She is so enthusiastic when it comes to teaching and loves her students,” one testimonial said.

“People are changing the narrative into her being a power-hungry, post-election racist when she is none of those things at all,” Bhika said on the petition. Bhika did not respond to a request for comment from The Fix.

Reached for comment via email, Anika Brown, vice president of the university’s Black Student Union, said: “We hope the student is satisfied with the outcome and that the professor has learned from the situation and will react differently going forth.”

MORE: Public university removes instructor for telling students to ‘be respectful in class’

MORE: University students restricted by new ‘respect’ policy

IMAGE: CarmenKarin / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Maria is a sophomore at Franciscan University of Steubenville, double majoring in political science and communication arts. She enjoys being active in her church by being a cantor and volunteers at her local hospital and soup kitchen.

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