It’s every college student’s worst nightmare. You pour your blood, sweat and tears into a big assignment only to have your professor accuse you of plagiarism. For Suffolk University student Tiffany Martinez, this scenario became a painful reality. But her feedback was delivered in front of a classroom of her fellow students. And even worse, she felt the comments were steeped in racism and micro-aggressions.
Martinez detailed the upsetting ordeal on her blog Viva Tiffany. In a post titled, “Academia, Love Me Back”, her professor handed back a literature review she’d written. The faculty member, whose name and gender is not shared in the piece, said ‘This is not your language’. The feedback was delivered in front of the entire classroom of students.
To add insult to injury, the faculty member had written, ‘Please go back and indicate where you cut and paste’ at the top of the page. Her professor had even circled the word ‘hence’ and questioned Martinez’s use of the transition word.
For Martinez, she felt the criticism was given based on her race. Her blog post details how her professor assumed she was incapable of producing high quality work because, as a Latina student, she wasn’t smart enough.
She’d faced many incidents like this before. But her professor’s accusations of plagiarism and blatant disrespect in front of her peers pushed her over the edge.
Suffolk University Post Catches Fire
Tiffany Martinez wasn’t the only one fired up about the embarrassing ordeal. Her blog post went viral with more than 10,000 shares on Facebook and almost 3500 comments on the post itself.
Surprisingly, there isn’t an overwhelming outpouring of support. Instead, the comments have turned into a battle of two schools of thought. One group of commenters have criticized Martinez’s writing technique and sided with the professor. Others have identified with the experience and praised her for being honest about her feelings.
Regardless of public opinion, Suffolk University is taking action. The school’s acting president, Marisa Kelly, published a blog post detailing the institution’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. She acknowledged that they need to work harder and have recently launched a 3-part diversity workshop for its faculty.
However, there’s no specific mention of who the professor was or how his or her actions will be directly addressed.
The controversy has opened up the discussion about racism in academia. Hopefully, it leads to positive change not just for Suffolk University but also for other colleges and universities around the nation.