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Tipsheet

A New York Professor Vowed to Call on 'Privileged' White Males Last

Richard Alan Hannon/The Advocate via AP

A sociology professor at Binghamton University in New York notified her students that she would prioritize minorities, women and shy people when calling on students, and white males would likely be called on last.

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Ana Maria Candela wrote in her syllabus, "if you are white, male, or someone privileged by the racial and gender structures of our society to have your voice easily voiced and heard, we will often ask you to hold off on your questions or comments to give others priority and will come back to you a bit later or at another time."

The policy, dubbed "progressive stacking," was explained in the syllabus as an effort to teach students who "feel most privileged to speak" to "hold space" for fellow students who are "less comfortable speaking first."

"Our experience with this practice is that within little time, those who feel most privileged to speak begin to take the initiative to hold space for others who feel less comfortable speaking first, while those who tend to be more silenced in our society grow more comfortable speaking," the syllabus read. "As you can imagine, it has tremendous benefits for our society as a whole when we learn to hold space and listen to others whose voices are typically disregarded and silenced."

The syllabus was for a spring course called "Social Change, Introduction to Sociology," according to Binghamton Homepage.

Candela was forced to remove the policy and a university spokesperson said in a statement that the initiative violated school policy.

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"Binghamton University faculty seek to engage all students in their classes in active participation, including those who are shy or lack self-confidence," the statement read. "The Faculty Staff Handbook outlines principles of effective teaching, which include valuing and encouraging student feedback, encouraging appropriate faculty-student interaction, and respecting the diverse talents and learning styles of students. The syllabus statement ... clearly violates those principles. The faculty member has updated their syllabus, removing the section in question, and is now in compliance with the Faculty Staff Handbook."

According to the New York Post, one student filed a Title IX discrimination complaint against the school.

"How am I supposed to get a full participation grade if I’m not called on because of the way I was born?" the student told the Post.

The student said Candela has also likened capitalism to slavery during class lectures.

But Candela's policy has received support, with more than 100 people attending a March 4 rally in support of her policy, according to WSKG.

Professor Tina Chronopoulos told the outlet that the policy should not have been removed from the syllabus.

"[Faculty] are worried that, you know, whenever they bring up, quote unquote, 'these difficult topics,' that they'll get blowback from people who feel like they're being discriminated against," she said.

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Candela said at the rally that she appreciates the support she has received.

"That tells you something about what students are experiencing on this campus," Candela said. "That you have to write a statement to help them to feel safe coming into the classroom space, to speak their voices, to have their voices heard."

Another professor, William Martin, started a petition to support Candela's policy.

"Dr. Candela recognizes as we do that our classroom discussions are often dominated by a minority of persons reflecting societal class, racial and gender inequalities," the petition states. "Our lives and education take place within and are reproduced by limited choices and experiences. Many of our students all too often feel marginalized, and discussions are constrained and limited as a result. We should not pretend otherwise. Good teachers encourage students to engage and challenge these inequalities."

Candela’s profile appears to have been removed from the Binghamton University website.

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