Professors cancel courses, cite College’s “violent practices,” “anti-blackness and transphobia”

Rebecca Tauber

Two professors canceled their courses in the days leading up to the start of spring semester. In an email to students enrolled in her courses, Kimberly Love, assistant professor of English, cited “a refusal to continue business as usual” in the face of “the College’s violent practices” as the reason that she would not return to the College this semester. Kai Green ’07, assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies (WGSS), is spending the semester on medical leave, writing in an email to the Record that the College is not a “safe place” for them. 

Love explained her choice in her email, which was forwarded to members of the Record staff. “My decision is rooted in a refusal to continue business as usual while many of us (students, staff, community members, faculty) suffer from the college’s violent practices,” she wrote. 

In a Jan. 26 email, Chair and Associate Professor of WGSS Gregory Mitchell informed students enrolled in Green’s course, “The Drag of Black Masculinity,” that “Professor Green will be taking an unexpected medical leave and will not be able to offer this class next semester.” 

Green told the Record that the strain of the past three semesters prompted the recovery period. “Unfortunately, Williams is not a safe place for me as a Black Trans Man, currently,” Green said. “I hope that better days are on the horizon, but that is up to the institution’s ability to listen to its students, faculty and staff for real change. The problem of anti-blackness and transphobia on campus can’t be Band-Aided up.”

When asked to elaborate, Green referred the Record to their and Love’s November article published in The Feminist Wire titled “Lessons from the Damned, 2018; or Why We Cannot wait for Tenure to Insist upon our Dignity, Respect, Power, and Value.” The article stated, “We write this piece to add to the collective record of institutional harms as documented by Black feminist scholars.” 

In the article, Green and Love detail microaggressions and recount a racist experience with a local business. “Our collective experiences, demonstrate how colleges and universities have not made structural changes to create environments in which Black, Brown, disabled, poor, queer people, and our work can thrive,” they wrote. “Through various isolating tactics, academic institutions can dull our awareness of the grave conditions under which we are expected to perform.”

Love and Green connected this issue with problems in the country at large. “What we are confronting is not much different from what we are experiencing as a U.S. citizen or not, in a larger society, that is in conflict and is struggling to hold onto its moral and ethical center,” they wrote. “We are living the backlash of a National and global push for liberation by and for Black, Queer, Transgender, Poor, Feminine/Femme people, and our Allies.”

With Love and Green not on campus this semester, 48 students found themselves searching for new classes, with 38 originally enrolled in Love’s courses and 10 in Green’s class. Two students were enrolled in both Love and Green’s classes, including Afoma Maduegbuna ’21. “To have, literally, first day of classes, half of my classes gone kind of sucked,” Maduegbuna said. “I’m sad and angry on so many different levels… but I’m glad [Love’s] taking care of herself.”

The WGSS and English departments have worked to accommodate these students. Since Green’s course was a senior seminar required for the WGSS major, Kiaran Honderich, lecturer in WGSS, now offers a course in the same time slot titled, “Advanced Readings and Research in WGSS.” Kathryn Kent, English department chair, met with students to help them find new classes. “This necessitated that professors in the department, as well as a few outside it, raise the enrollment limits on their courses or allow students to join after the first meeting, which these professors were more than happy to do,” Kent said.

Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell confirmed that Green is on leave and declined to comment regarding Love. Love had not responded by deadline to the Record’s email requesting comment.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Feb. 7 at 11:22 am to correct a misgendered pronoun in the first paragraph.