In a campus-wide email sent out Thursday, Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns said he has been monitoring Tuesday's classroom incident with Ball State Provost Susana Riviera-Mills.
"The classroom is a special place. It is a place of invigorated learning, and it should always be a welcoming environment for all of our students,” Mearns said in the email. “In the incident this week, we did not meet that important standard."
A video posted on Barstool Ball State showed a student being asked to move seats in his Marketing 310 classroom. When he refused to move seats, the professor had a student worker call the University Police Department (UPD).
“The [professor’s] choice was a gross error of judgement and it was simply and unwarranted overreaction,” Mearns said about the incident.
When the president learned of the incident, he said he worked with the dean and the chair of the marketing department, at the request of Rivera-Mills, to speak to the professor, Shaheen Borna, about their concerns that the situation had unnecessarily escalated.
Mearns said the dean established corrective actions — including appropriate training and oversight for the professor going forward.
Apart from the the apology sent by Borna to the students in the class, the department chair met with the student to make sure the university fully understood the student’s experience and how it can best support him. The chair met with all the students in the class Thursday morning.
Once Mearns returns to campus, he said he hopes to be able to meet with the student to hear his account of the event first-hand and work with Ro-Anne Royer Engle, interim vice president for student affairs, to meet with student leaders to hear suggestions and how the campus can improve.
Additionally, he said that he will be meeting with the Black Faculty and Staff Association Jan. 30 “to seek their guidance on how we can continue to create a more inclusive campus community.” Mearns said he will also seek advice from Black Alumni Constituent Society.
Finally, Mearns said he will attempt to get into contact with “local community leaders” to obtain their input as well.