Buffalo State: Instructor’s Black Lives Matter remarks were taken out of context

Education

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — SUNY Buffalo State College is now saying that remarks made by an instructor last year sparked controversy, were taken out of context.

In September 2020, writing instructor Erica Cope said during a virtual course “I am sick of talking about Black Lives Matter.” A 15-second clip of her saying went viral on social media and generated a backlash.

Buffalo State President Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner announced an investigation into those remarks last month. And on Friday, Buffalo State’s Chief Diversity Officer, Crystal J. Rodriguez, J.D., presented results of that investigation — finding that Cope’s remarks were taken out of context and had been intended to generate thought and debate.

Cope has since revised her lesson plan.

The college’s statement says engaging in difficult conversations is an important hallmark of higher education.

Read an excerpt of the statement below:

“After reviewing the full video from the College Writing Program’s (CWP) virtual course on September 23, 2020, I believe it is clear that the instructor made a remark that many, including myself, would perceive as culturally insensitive, understandably leading one to question Buffalo State’s commitment to cultural awareness and inclusivity; however, the instructor’s headline-making statement, which circulated on social media in April 2021, was in fact taken out of a larger context that was intended to generate thought and debate around an unpopular opinion. Engaging in difficult conversations and learning how to confront opposing views with rhetorical and critical analysis are important and protected hallmarks of higher education. The instructor’s intention aside, as educators we must also consider the impact that her statement had on our students.”

Crystal J. Rodriguez, J.D, SUNY Buffalo State’s Chief Diversity Officer

For Rodriguez’s full statement, click here.

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