Ball State students hold walkout after professor calls cops on student who refused to change seats

Student demonstrators at Ball State University in Indiana held a walkout on Tuesday to peacefully protest a professor who last week called police after a black student refused to change seats during class.

The Jan. 21 confrontation between marketing professor Shaheen Borna and senior business administration major Sultan Benson was caught on video and posted online.

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Benson, who is black, said he refused Borna's request to move from his seat in the back of the classroom to an open seat in the front row. Video shows two campus officers entering the room and questioning Benson before removing him from class.

While BSU President Geoffrey S. Mearns has said Borna will be monitored going forward, student groups have demanded the professor retire and go through sensitivity training, RTV6 Indianapolis reported.

At the student-led demonstration on Tuesday, Benson addressed dozens of students and faculty about how the incident made him feel as a “young black man,” according to local media reports.

“You gonna call the police on somebody trying to further their education?” he asked. “You gonna call the police while I'm paying attention to what you're teaching? You gonna call the police while the rest of these students are trying to learn? …We all know how situations with the police go with young African-American men, correct?"

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Benson also thanked Mearns for attending the rally.

Last week, Mearns called the professor’s actions a “gross error” and “unwarranted overreaction,” the Star Press reported.

He also proposed a plan of action, which includes new faculty training, and meetings with Benson, black faculty and campus groups, WISH-TV reported.

Borna, a tenured professor who has taught at BSU since 1983, has since issued an apology to Benson and the class, the paper reported.

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The university and Borna have declined to comment to local media about the incident.