Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

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Listen to Us: Students Vocalize Racist and Sexist Professors at Winona State

‘Your college professors won’t be like us high school teachers.’

This was a commonly said phrase from teachers warning high school seniors that college won’t be so easy. This was typically in reference to classroom expectations and class workloads.

For some Winona State University students, they can face sexism and racism in their own classrooms.

“Overall, Winona State preaches a culture that incorporates diversity and inclusivity. My experiences here, at least so far have been the complete opposite,” A WSU junior said. “In addition to them being the complete opposite, in a lot of ways Winona State is enabling the same behaviors that counteract inclusivity and diversity.”

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In some general education courses and some higher-level classes in majors, students are noticing racial and sexist comments/behaviors in their own classrooms.

“This professor is insensitive and offensive towards minorities. The way he teaches revolves around minorities,” a WSU sophomore said. “It’s just the way [this professor] is.”

She said that while she noticed the behavior, she needed the general education credits to move further along in her nursing degree and continued taking the class.

“I haven’t reported anything myself, but I believe others have but not much is done because he is tenured.” she comments.

A tenured professor is an educator given an employer status and allows for an indefinite position that can be terminated under extraordinary circumstances like a program being shut down or financial emergencies.

One student said he noticed racist behavior from his professor within the first months of classes.

“To be very honest, it made me reconsider even coming here. At one point, I felt as if I made a mistake that I was gonna end up regretting,” He comments. “I feel different now because at the end of the day, nothing’s gonna stop me on my path to success. It’s just a matter of yet another obstacle.”

Throughout his experiences, he feels that there are a lot of bystanders in this situation who know they can act, but they simply don’t.

“Why not put your energy into correcting the wrong rather than fixating on the right? When you choose not to focus on the things that should be focused on those things that you don’t focus on will continuously be distractions.” He comments. “It is really not necessarily just the fact of these particular people, because it’s really not a person, it’s an entire department. These people enable this behavior.”

Students come to WSU to learn and to achieve higher-level degrees. When students feel unsafe or not wanted in a class, it can directly affect their grades and overall perspective of school in general.

“Being uncomfortable takes away focus from the content being taught and can impact grades.” a WSU sophomore said. “For others facing this issue, I encourage you to speak up.”

There are a multitude of obstacles that students face that can lead to students finding different schools and different majors. This is an issue that affects everyone in a classroom. In addition, this behavior from professors puts other students on a higher pedestal and can lead to unequal opportunities being offered to those students.

“Disparities arise from cultural misunderstandings or unintentional ‘implicit biases’ that unknowingly affect our thoughts and behaviors.”  The American Physiology Association said.

They also comment on how this bias can change the balance of the way professors teach and discipline in a classroom

“If you are a black man, woman, and or non-binary person, I would definitely say that you’re in for a rough ride,” a WSU junior commented. “Depending on what major you may choose WSU.”

Some students mention they are hopeful that WSU higher-ups will act, but they understand that this process is delicate and complex. They also believe that just because it is complex, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. From the words from the Winona State University Equity & Inclusive Excellence website page.

“It will not be an easy journey, nor a short one, but it is an imperative one. It will require consistent, dedicated effort from each and every one of us, and we must rise to the occasion.”

 

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About the Contributor
Elly Herrick, Online Editor
Elly Herrick (She/They) is currently the online/social media editor, business manager, features writer, and photographer. Try saying that five times fast. Herrick also works as the Communications Director on Student Senate, a 2023 Orientation Leader, and was newly added on a Tuesday 7-10p.m timeslot on KQAL. They are also the Social media manager for the WSU Pre-Athletic Training Club. Herrick is from Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is a second-year student at Winona State University studying Mass Communications: Public Relations with a minor in Advertising, Photography, and Creative Digital Media. They love following challenging and fulfilling stories. They also have a strong passion for writing and giving others a voice. Herrick loves to travel and over the summer, they traveled to Greece, Italy, and Barcelona. They are now saving up and planning on going to New Zealand this winter with their Aunt. Outside of school, they love taking the train and seeing live concerts with friends. They also love sharks and a good book!    

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