A Ball State University professor who called the police on a Black male student who refused to switch seats will not teach classes for the rest of the semester.
On Wednesday, Ball State announced marketing professor Shaheen Borna will be absent for the rest of the semester, according to FOX 59.
“Dr. Borna will not be teaching classes for the remainder of the semester. This decision is in the best interest of Dr. Borna and University” the Indiana university said in a statement.
“The decision was made to ensure continuity in the curriculum, eliminate any unnecessary distractions, and help our students complete the appropriate course expectations.”
The incident occurred on Jan. 21, during a marketing class taught by Borna. Sultan “Mufasa” Benson, a senior, noticed someone was sitting in his assigned seat when he arrived to class. Borna suggested a seat in the back of the classroom and Benson obliged. When another student left early, Borna suggested Benson move again. He declined because he was charging his laptop and was already settled.
“Either you move your seat, or I call the police,” Borna reportedly told Benson.
“Are you really about to call the police?” Benson responded.
Moments later, two campus police officers showed up. In cellphone video of the incident, other students came to Benson’s defense and told the police their classmate hadn’t done anything wrong.
Benson eventually left the classroom. Borna claimed he was allowed back the following session and issued an apology to the class.
“Dear Mr. Benson, Today, during our Marketing 310 class, a situation arose that I mishandled. I sincerely apologize for this,” he wrote. “As a professor at Ball State University, it is my responsibility to ensure that you and all of my students receive an excellent educational experience. I am sorry that my actions today did not contribute to that. I hope you accept my sincere apology.”
The damage was done. Benson dropped the class and was left with emotional scars from the conflict. He later told CNN he’d grown up in Chicago and witnessed how police “reacted with young African-American men, and it hasn’t been pretty.” He says he felt his professor had shown little regard for how things could have developed.
“I’m automatically going to be scared and on guard,” Benson told CNN. “That shows me that you don’t care about my life.”
The incident sparked protests from students who believed Borna should be forced into retirement. Ball State University president Geoffery Mearns said Borna had an “unwarranted overreaction” and promised he would undergo training.
Borna’s employment status is unclear. He has been a member of the faculty since 1983.