Student Says Professor Put His Life At Risk By Calling Cops Over Seat Assignment

Holly Matkin

"That shows me that you don't care about my life," Ball State University student Sultan Benson declared.

Muncie, IN – An Iranian-born professor who has been teaching at Ball State University for 37 years will be on leave for the rest of the semester after he called police to handle a student who refused comply with a seating reassignment in his classroom.

The student, Sultan “Mufasa” Benson, later alleged that the professor, Dr. Shaheen Borna, singled him out because he is black, the Associated Press reported.

Benson also claimed that Borna put his life in danger by calling the police on him.

"I'm automatically going to be scared and on guard," he told CNN. "That shows me that you don't care about my life."

Benson further complained that he has experienced nightmares and anxiety since the incident.

The disagreement between Borna and Benson occurred in Borna’s Marketing 310 class on Jan. 21, CNN reported.

Benson arrived to class to find that someone had taken his regular seat, so Borna told him to take an empty seat towards the back of the room, Benson said.

Approximately 30 minutes later, another student left the class, so the professor asked Benson to move up into the empty seat, CNN reported.

Instead of complying, the student asked Borna why he had to move, especially since he was seated in a place where he could charge his laptop.

At the beginning of the semester, Borna, who is known as a well-respected, “by-the-book” instructor by his colleagues, has students sign off on a form acknowledging that he has explained all of his class policies to them, the Star Press reported.

The signoff form also included a section acknowledging that students were given time to inquire about the classroom policies.

“You are required to be on time,” one section of the syllabus read. “I usually lock the door before my lecture. I reserve the right to change class-sitting chart without any explanations."

When Benson pushed back against Borna’s request for him to move into the open seat, Borna followed the university’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities and told him he would alert police if he did not comply, the Star Press reported.

Under the code, faculty members have the power to tell a student to leave the room temporarily if they are causing a disruption.

"If the student refuses to leave, University Police should be called and requested to remove the student from the academic setting," according to the codebook.

Two officers responded to the classroom, at which point Benson left, the Associated Press reported.

The situation sparked campus protests and a letter in the university’s student newspaper from over 100 faculty members “condemning the misuse of police in the classroom, calling out the institutional racism behind it, and telling you, our students, that we are with you.”

“Our first concern is Borna’s rapid escalation of the situation and involvement of the police to resolve a disagreement about seating,” the letter said, according to the Associated Press. “No disruption or physical threat existed. The use of police to get one’s way in the classroom is institutional violence. We support our students of color as they deal with the trauma of these events and navigate its fallout.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also denounced Borna, and said the situation was an example of “weaponizing the police against people of color impetuously,” the Associated Press reported.

“The actions taken by Professor Shaheen Borna are yet the latest example of thoughtless behavior that yields traumatic and frequently detrimental outcomes,” the NAACP declared. “Countless men and women throughout our nation have experienced discrimination, racial profiling, and over-policing at the hands of bigotry and intolerance.”

Nearly immediately after the incident, Borna sent out emails apologizing to the class and to Benson specifically, CNN reported.

"As a professor at Ball State University, it is my responsibility to ensure that you and all of my students receive an excellent educational experience,” Borna wrote. “I am sorry that my actions today did not contribute to that.”

On Feb. 7, a group of 30 faculty members submitted a letter to The Daily News to express their support of Borna.

“Dr. Shaheen Borna has been a dedicated faculty member over the past 35+ years. He has been an outstanding researcher, teacher and has spent countless hours on committees and serving students,” the letter read. “In fact, there has been no faculty member during his tenure who has spent more time on the Ball State campus than Dr. Borna.”

On top of spending many weekends and evenings devoted to his work, Borna was also recognized as Ball State University’s Outstanding Professor just a few years ago.

“Dr. Borna chose to handle the situation by his understanding of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities…others thought the situation should have been handled differently,” his supporters said. “For those of you who do not know Dr. Borna, please don’t judge him on this one act. We all have events in our lives, if we had them to do over again, we would have handled them differently.”

The faulty members said that Borna continues to be committed to providing an “inclusive and supportive environment” for students, and called the situation an “unfortunate incident.”

On Feb. 13, the university announced that Borna will not be teaching classes for the rest of the semester, the Star Press reported.

"This decision is in the best interest of Dr. Borna and the University,” the school said in a statement. “The dean of the Miller College of Business, in consultation with the provost, made this decision to ensure that we provide continuity in the curriculum, eliminate any unnecessary distractions, and help our students complete the appropriate course expectations."

The university did not bring charges against the professor, nor was he subject to disciplinary action or formally suspended, the Star Press reported.

Benson said that Borna’s absence for the rest of the semester is “definitely a small victory,” according to the Star Press.

“I'm glad to see them do something temporarily,” Benson said. “My only worry is if this slap on the wrist is enough. I’m not doing anything out of spite. I want justice, and a temporary leave for all of the policies he broke is still just the bare minimum, but at least it's a step forward in the right direction."

He said he is considering suing the university and Borna over the incident, CNN reported.

Comments (90)
sturnman22
sturnman22

Much ado about nothing. Shame on the University and the racist student.

No. 1-50
Blueknight47
Blueknight47

So the STUDENTS control ALL the Rules in a Classroom And the Professor is just dirt.
Anyone ask the idiot Why he would not move? Race Card every time.

AnnykaV
AnnykaV

This bullshit of "putting my life in danger" needs to stop. If society accepts those statements at face value, we'll never get out from under the demise of respect for law enforcement created under Obama.

JustMyTwoCents
JustMyTwoCents

This will make a professor think twice before calling the police on a student. I am a university professor and had a student of a minority group pick up a desk/chair combo and chuck it at me while I was lecturing. (I didn't realize calculus could drive students to such frustration). I bet it I had called campus police, that I would have suffered a similar fate as this professor.

12188csr
12188csr

Same old crap! can't seem to follow rules! And sue, sue, sue!

pr9383
pr9383

Sultan belligerently disrupted the class and was probably asked to leave. I'm certain he felt entitled enough to reject that and just did what he wanted to do. When the police showed up (because he was then trespassing on private property) and ordered him to depart, he played the race card. Sultan, feeling more self-righteous and self-important than his classmates, got his 'way' and the advanced marketing class, that everyone really needed credit for, was canceled this semester. Good Job, Sultan! Lots of luck finding a decent marketing job after publicizing your notoriety. I genuinely feel sorry for everyone involved - except Sultan - none of them deserve that outcome.

flybynight
flybynight

Get over yourself drama queen!!!!! You should have gone with the "days too many white people in here" We already know that one works.

LEO0301
LEO0301

Some people are slaves of the mind. They live in that state 24/7 and will use race as an excuse at the drop of a hat. How embarrassing.

Bud
Bud

The racist student, and the 100 cowardly faculty members have little appreciation for this mans devoted service, and now it looks like dollar signs for the racist. At first everybody was to call them negro, then black, then african-americans, now it's persons of color. They have more names than Heinz has pickles.

MSK
MSK

A new reason to hit the ghetto lottery “ A racist professor changed my seat. “

RetLeo33587
RetLeo33587

How dare the university makes me pay for my education
How dare they make me take a test or have a passing grade to get a degree
How dare they have policy on how students conduct themselves on campus
I need to sue these bastards at the university for infringing on my civil minority rights

LynnSB
LynnSB

What absolute bullshit just another goddamn black looking for the get a lottery payouts and now this professor is out of work until the end of the semester and he probably will lose his job eventually because of it this is just bullshit what the hell are you schools gonna stand up to his little son of a bitches and throw them out you’re absolutely disgusting that you do this bullshit to these professors that man is been there for multiple years teaching and now this guy comes in and all the sudden wow we got a put this guy and leave you guys are spineless goddamn worms

Cindyrella
Cindyrella

All Michael Brown had to do was get on the sidewalk.

NTPD935Ret
NTPD935Ret

I didn’t see anything in the article that the professor brought color into the seat assignment. The student didn’t want to move as directed and when removed from the class he said it was because he was black. Of course his actions had nothing to do with it just his color did. I call BS.

PB62
PB62

Pure entitlement. Disgusting.

vwiles34
vwiles34

They should have tazed the little black bastard and drug his ass out to the curb with a note pinned to him that said expelled. This bull shit of blacks using the race card whenever they don't want to conform to rules that are the same for everyone has gotten way out of hand. All the little bastard had to do was change seats. The teacher is running the show not the students. But they're to damn stupid to know that.

ikaika
ikaika

That little punk Benson is still thinking about suing Borna and the university because he's not sure that slap on the wrist was enough, and he wants JUSTICE!
Well, of course he does, in the form of a big fat check.

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

Typical... WTF is wrong with these people?

Cduncanf
Cduncanf

Too many woke oeople

Trefflek
Trefflek

Just crazy! That A simple request can’t be followed.

tommc42
tommc42

Another example of Obamanomics that says "our" personal wishes override those of society. It is another example of thinking "I am above the law" and need not obey lawful orders or rules.

VicG
VicG

"Automatically gonna be scared", what'a bunch of BS...

portManaT13
portManaT13

This professor (kindergarten teacher!) reserves the right to move students around willy-nilly and at his personal whim. That's the start point of what is really wrong here. This is college, not high school, not middle school, not primary grades. The student did not cause the disruption, the professor (kindergarten teacher!) did by ordering the student to move not once but twice!
I don't follow the "sue" part, but that student has every right to feel aggrieved. The university faculty standards and practices committee should never have allowed that professor (kindergarten teacher!) to have the option to moved students seating around like that in the first place. Strictly speaking, in this situation the students are the employers and the professor (kindergarten teacher!) is the employee.

7 Replies

Woobie46
Woobie46

You must be one of the 'aggrieved' for you to write this tripe! IF a prof or ANY OTHER TEACHER wants to change the seating assignments in HIS CLASS, he has every right to do so. These slimy creepy black people will go to the ends of the earth to make a fuss about ANY and ALL things just to get a payout. So go screw!

Quasar704
Quasar704

You know what? You’re right... If I’m paying 20 grand per year to attend a university I should be able to sit wherever the hell I choose so long as it doesn’t interfere with the education of other paying students. I didn’t think of it in that light at first

Quasar704
Quasar704

That’s exactly why they should be shot whenever a cop sees fit right?

Woobie46
Woobie46

Works for me, bright boy

Quasar704
Quasar704

I’m sure it does, dull boy

flybynight
flybynight

And look who runs to his defense. Figures 🙄
It's all about skin color with crazy, always.

Michael Bryant
Michael Bryant

He is the Captain of the Ship, the End.
Student is looking more like the ass hole of campus BS.
USA USA USA

Stanracer
Stanracer

Playing the race card. Next up, the ghetto lottery.

capt wood 107
capt wood 107

FOLLOW THE RULES. PERIOD

RB2207
RB2207

A well respected Professor of 37 years has his name tarnished because of an ignorant child who can't abide by the rules. All he had to do is move his seat, simple and there would have been no issues. I would like to see if this student has been a problem in the past for this or any other Professor. It is about time schools stop giving in to these whiney petulant children and remove them from the school so those who actually are there to learn can get a proper education.

Jones24
Jones24

Oh stop it, big baby. What is with that generation.

magnumforc
magnumforc

Another sniveling snowflake looking for a big payday.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

Translation: you are no longer allowed to call PD on POC. it's clearly racist to do so.

I mean, ignoring the fact that the student wasn't following directions, was being disrespectful to the professor, and is threatening to sue the university unless he gets a settlement.....

overwatcher
overwatcher

The professor should now sue the school. If he was following procedures that the student was previously made aware of and he signed a paper stating those procedures then the professor did no wrong. Of course, more and more blacks consider themselves "special" and immune from the results of their actions because of slavery - it's their "get out of anything" card. Actually it's a modern version of George Orwell's "Animal Farm".

overwatcher
overwatcher

Woe be unto anybody that hires this angry black punk. Soon enough he will be running the operation - or else!

Rascal1966
Rascal1966

More black entitlement!! We don't need to follow any rules or law. Everything is somebody else's fault and everything including milk is racist!!

BLUEALWAYS
BLUEALWAYS

It always comes down to RACE, DOESN'T IT ?????

BLUEALWAYS
BLUEALWAYS

'' THEY '' are ALL THE SAME EVERYWHERE !!!!!!!!!!!!
SICKENING, ALL OF '' THEM ''.

tuggingalong
tuggingalong

Mufasa is an entitled victimized idiot.

“If I don’t get my way, you’re a racist.”

Go ahead sign him up for welfare, if he hasn’t already been receiving it.

Wish505
Wish505

Just another TND. Nature of the race.

Me55
Me55

Why are we racist when we expect you to follow the same laws, and rules like every other person?

Caroparks53
Caroparks53

Money..as usual..that was this punks goal..and he will win. No wonder we r experiencing shortage of teachers..

MamaD79
MamaD79

@VicG Ironic eh? "Automatically gonna be scared....." must have had trouble behaving before!!

Gap Filler
Gap Filler

Black privilege strikes again!

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

POWER MOVE.

1sam81
1sam81

I am quite sure that this professor would do the same thing if the kid was white .

MedicCop
MedicCop

If he signed off on an agreement to follow rules clearly articulated, hopefully his lawsuit will fail in court. When it does, I hope the professor files a counter suit to take back teacher authority in the classroom. Who needs tenure, though it sounds like he earned it long ago?

Along with that, I hope every other student in that class sues the entitled little asswipe and the university for disrupting their educational activities. No more student debt!

Just-My-Thoughts
Just-My-Thoughts

How was his safety in jeopardy? The professor followed the rules, had all the student read and acknowledge they understood them. This idiot didn't want to do that. He'll get the ghetto lottery for something and possibly a full paid ride in school......wolf wolf.

Mimi54
Mimi54

So throw out the rules, don't let professors have their "rules". Damned if you do, damned if you don't in full force! Sad

Michael Bryant
Michael Bryant

Just go to school, do your class work and stop the BS of look at me and my BS attitude in life. BITCH at what caused the police to be called (You). Teachers and professors are the Captain of the ship. Life is a bitch, so try not adding any more into it.