Georgetown University Law Center has launched an investigation after a professor was caught on video making "abhorrent" comments about the success of her Black students.
The conversation, which took place between two professors over Zoom, was recently shared to Twitter by a student who called the exchange "beyond unacceptable."
Dean Bill Treanor responded to the clip on Wednesday in a letter to the school community that addressed the situation, and said an investigation had been launched by the school's Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action.
"We learned earlier this week that two members of our faculty engaged in a conversation that included reprehensible statements concerning the evaluation of Black students. We are responding with the utmost seriousness to this situation," Treanor wrote. "I have watched a video of this conversation and find the content to be abhorrent. It includes conduct that has no place in our educational community. We must ensure that all students are treated fairly and evaluated on their merits."
According to a petition calling for the instructor's immediate termination, the conversation came as the professor spoke about the only Black student in her class, and how the student was being placed at the bottom of the grading curve.
"They were a bit jumbled, that's the best way I can put it. It's like, okay, let me reason through that, what you just said. I hate to say this, I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks," she said. "Happens almost every semester. And it's like, 'Oh, come on.' There's some really good ones, but there's also usually some that are just plain at the bottom and it drives me crazy."
The other professor featured in the clip did not weigh in on the conversation, but nodded along.
The exchange was filmed and posted to the online database Panopto, where students were able to access the recording, NBC News reported.
Treanor said he recognized that the incident was "hurtful" to members of the class, to members of the Black community and to members of the community as a whole.
"I am committed to taking steps to support students through this and to addressing racism and bias wherever they appear," he wrote. "There is no place for bias in our grading process or anywhere in our community."
The petition, which was launched by the Black Law Student Association, has more than 1,000 signatures.
It calls not for the professor's suspension or an investigation, but for her immediate termination; a public apology from the other professor for "his failure to adequately condemn Sellers' statements"; and a commitment by Georgetown to hire more Black professors.
The university has not identified the professors involved, but PEOPLE has reached out to those reportedly in the video for comment.
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