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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student reveals nature of Hindley complaint

Published: November 9, 2007
Section: News

After last weeks coverage of the allegations of racism brought against Professor Donald Hindley (POL) for statements in his Latin American Politics classes, a student explained the nature of the complaints they had brought to the Administration.

I reported him because of all the completely inappropriate comments he made, mostly in September, which trickled down to October, and we get occasional comments [now].

Some people think they are comforting, spice up the class, make him more approachable, said a student who wished to be known as Jane, who submitted complaints against Hindley after meeting with her advisor and departmental chair Steven Burg (POL). It completely backfires, because you cant respect him as you should as a tenured professor for nearly 50 years.

Jane explained that her complaints dealt with alleged insensitivity by Hindley to the issues in his class, including usage of the terms mi petite negrita and wetbacks.

The thing that pushed me over the edge was a story about a Brandeis student that he had who came from an elite Mexican family. He said, he came here and he paid his way…. but when he came back here, his back was still wet, said Jane. That was the day I came to my professor and said, this is crazy. These flippant remarks, he doesn't see that they affect other peopleits a joke, to him. Hindley was unable to be reached for comment.

Jane also felt Hindley made inappropriate comments regarding drug use, and alleged that another student told her Hindley made inflammatory comments about religion last semester. When he was talking about the rising costs in reefer, you just wonder. And his silly little anecdotes about his daughter watching MTV and listening to bad music theyre things that have no business in a classroomthey're too personal.

She continued, he was telling the class about his house and how all his neighbors drive BMWs and how he should tear his house down since it isnt worth anything and his neighbors dont like himits just a perpetuation of this inappropriate nature and these inappropriate remarks.

As to the investigation of Hindleys class, Jane explained, I had a very long chat with Jess Simone who is in Human Resources. She seemed almost excited, but intrigued she had her assistant, who took avid notes of everything I said. It seems to me that the Administration is almost happy this came about, so they can nail him. Hes been around forever and Ive heard comments of dislike from the past decadesthere have been other complaints [about] that. I think theyre attempting to give him his due process now since he has been here so longat least thats the impression that Ive heard.

Despite her complaints, Jane said she may take another course with Hindley, because I won't have to do work. When asked about the penalty decided upon by the Administration, Jane felt that while anti-discriminatory training was appropriate, she felt Assistant Provost Richard Silberman only needed to attend one class per week.

Students disagreed with many of the complaints. Based on these statements, it was clear that the Administration reacted to this data based on their own bias and not on the merits of the accusations, said Kevin Montgomery 07.

I think that the allegations which are being made against Hindley are being done so by someone who is taking things out of context. It is interesting that the person whom you interviewed almost brushes context off as if it does not matter, when in fact, it is extremely important, said Ramon de Jesus 08.

If context were not important, everything anyone ever said could be misconstrued one way or another. As a student of color who has taken both Latin American Politics classes with Hindley, I can honestly say that the man is not racist.

He added Im not in a Hindley class currently, but if given the opportunity I would sign up for another one.

Regarding Hindleys statements, sure there is context, but it should be treated gently, especially with students from so many different cultures, said Jane.

You have Latin American students, Mexican studentsthere are Jewish students, homosexual students, black studentsyou're just running the gamut in this classroom. I would think that would call for extra sensitivity, but I guess he doesn't think so, she said.