A religious studies professor at Texas Christian University sent an email offering special tutoring to “STUDENTS OF COLOR ONLY.”
An anonymous student in Santiago Piñón’s “Understanding Religion: Society and Culture” class received the following email from the professor and forwarded it to Inside Higher Ed:
“At the beginning of the semester I usually like to invite all my students of color to get together and discuss the challenges they may face during the semester. However, the time slipped by and I didn’t get a chance. So, I would like to ask if you are interested in a get together on Monday afternoon? We can also discuss the exam that is coming up, if you want. I don’t mind if this would turn out to be a study session for my STUDENTS OF COLOR ONLY.”
The student believes that Piñón sent his offer of assistance to students with Hispanic-sounding last names. The student said she has a Hispanic last-name, but is only one-quarter Hispanic.
“I straight up just got segregated by my own teacher. I’m 75 [percent] white,” she wrote on Facebook, according to Inside Higher Ed.
One of the students who received the email notified university administrators. Piñón later announced that the study session was cancelled, and it did not take place on Monday.
Piñón did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the university forwarded his statement to The Daily Caller, in which he claimed his initial email was a “misunderstanding.”
“I should have been more clear in that any study group is open to all students,” he wrote. “I do like to offer myself as a resource to students (particularly those of color) who may face challenges and become discouraged; goal is to encourage and offer support, so I am troubled to think some students may have thought they were being excluded from a study session because that was not at all the intention.”
Professors must make university resources available to all students, according to the university.
“TCU expects that professors provide equal opportunities to all students,” wrote Lisa Albert, director of communications, in a statement to The Daily Caller.
Piñón received highly positive reviews from his students on ratemyprofessor.com.