A Ball State University professor called police on a black student who refused to switch seats. Now the professor won't be teaching for the rest of the semester.

·3 min read
Shaheen Borna of Ball State
Shaheen Borna

provided by Ball State University

  • A professor at Ball State University called police on a black student Sultan Benson in January for refusing to change seats in class.

  • When police arrived, students came to Benson's defense. Benson agreed to leave the classroom.

  • On Wednesday, the university announced that the professor, Shaheen Borna, is not returning to teach.

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A professor at Ball State University who called police on a black student will not return to teach for the rest of the semester. 

Shaheen Borna, a Ball State marketing professor who joined faculty in 1983, came under fire in January after he called police on college senior Sultan "Mufasa" Benson for refusing to change seats during class. 

"Dr. Borna will not be teaching classes for the remainder of the semester," Kathy Wolf, a spokeswoman for Ball State, said in a statement to Insider. "This decision is in the best interest of  Dr. Borna and the University," 

According to the Ball State Daily News, On Jan. 21 Benson was directed to sit in an open seat rather than his typical spot in Borna's marketing class. During class a student sitting near the front of the room left, so Borna requested Benson move to that seat. Benson refused because he was charging his laptop, so Borna gave him the ultimatum to move seats or leave class. When he refused, the professor called the police.

The incident was caught on video and Benson's classmates can be heard defending him when police arrived.

Some staff and students were upset by the actions of the professor and staged a walkout a few weeks later.

Benson told his college paper that he was afraid when police were called because he is a large black man from Chicago. 

"I'm from the south side of Chicago. I wasn't supposed to make it to college if [I'm] being honest," he told the paper. "I made it to college, and I got the police called on me for being in the classroom ...You don't know what's going to happen in that 20 seconds. If I hadn't kept my composure, I could've been riddled with bullets, tased, beat down, handcuffed — there's no telling."

Attempts to reach Benson and Borna were unsuccessful Thursday.

"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," Wolf's statement to Insider said.

Borna sent an emailed apology to Benson after the incident.

"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," he said in the email, according to the Ball State Daily News. "I am sorry that my actions today did not contribute to that."

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