Senior business administration major, Sultan "Mufasa" Benson, gets interviewed by NewsLink Indiana Jan. 22. 2020, in a Whitinger Business Building classroom. Benson's Marketing 310 professor, Shaheen Borna, called the police on him after he refused to change seats because he was charging his laptop. Jaden Whiteman, DN
NAACP condemns actions of Ball State professor
In a statement published on its website Saturday, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said it condemns the actions of Shaheen Borna, professor of marketing at Ball State, during the Jan. 21 classroom incident.
Borna had two University Police Department officers called on Sultan "Mufasa" Benson, senior business administration major, after he refused to move seats in his class.
"Far too often, police are weaponized against people of color impetuously," NAACP said in its statement, adding that the organization is "outraged" by the incident. "Countless men and women throughout our nation have experienced discrimination, racial profiling and over-policing at the hands of bigotry and intolerance."
It said the actions taken by the professor are "the latest example of thoughtless behavior that yields traumatic and frequently detrimental outcomes."
"Colleges and universities are built on the premise of encouraging young minds and challenging what is possible under the wisdom and tutelage of experienced educators," the statement reads. "Nothing in terms of the demand or the action taken by Professor Borna reflects that premise."
It called the professor's behavior "shameful," adding "apologies are not sufficient for racist behavior."
The NAACP demanded immediate action be taken to "thwart such dangerous and unacceptable behavior in the future."
"We must commit to eliminating the severe racial inequities that continue to plague our educational system and work to ensure that all students of color have access to safe campuses, excellent teaching and equitable resources," the statement reads.
Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns responded to the incident Jan. 23 in a campus-wide email. Mearns said the professor's choice during the incident was "a gross error of judgement" and an "unwarranted overreaction."
After learning about the incident, he said, he worked with the dean and the chair of the marketing department, at the request of Ball State Provost Susana Rivera-Mills, to speak to the professor about the university's concerns that the situation had unnecessarily escalated.
Apart from several steps Mearns said he would be taking, he said the dean established corrective actions — including appropriate training and oversight for the professor going forward.