University of Regina condemns professor's racist email to students, says disciplinary action taken

·4 min read
The University of Regina has condemned the racist statements made by one of its professors.  (Kevin O'Connor/CBC - image credit)
The University of Regina has condemned the racist statements made by one of its professors. (Kevin O'Connor/CBC - image credit)

The University of Regina has condemned a racist email sent by one of its professors to students in his class.

The faculty member, identified in emails as Allan L. L. East, a professor of chemistry in the school's faculty of science, is now facing "corrective action and disciplinary measures," the U of R says.

In an emailed response to questions about East sent by CBC, the university did not identify him by name, but said it "can confirm that a faculty member sent an email that contained racist remarks aimed at a specific ethnic group of students in their class."

Citing privacy legislation, the Friday statement did not provide specifics on his comments, nor did it clarify what disciplinary measures have been taken.

The racist comments were made in an email sent to students in East's Chemistry 105 class over their final marks.

According to the May 10 email, 14 students in the class had received an "NR" (or "not yet reported") as a grade in the class after they were allegedly caught cheating on their final exam.

"I never had an exam cheater in my 21 years as a professor," East wrote in the email, a copy of which was provided to CBC.

Allan East, a professor of chemistry at the University of Regina, said in a followup email to students he is now receiving training and education on 'respect, equity and diversity' after making racist comments in an earlier email.
Allan East, a professor of chemistry at the University of Regina, said in a followup email to students he is now receiving training and education on 'respect, equity and diversity' after making racist comments in an earlier email.(Uofregina.ca)

He informed students that the faculty's associate dean would review the cases and possibly award them a grade worse than a zero — an XF grade, which indicates academic misconduct.

But it was East's comments near the closing of the email that have fuelled outrage from members of the community and condemnation from the U of R.

"I could not help but notice that all 14 of you cheaters have East Indian last names. None of the Canadian or international students cheated," East wrote.

"You must not cheat in Canada. Canadians do not like cheaters."

'I'm not shocked': U of R grad student

Aysha Yaqoob, an anti-racism activist and graduate student at the University of Regina, had the email provided to her by a friend in the class.

"I couldn't believe that this was something that was sent in 2021, at the end of Asian Heritage Month, after the university has released countless statements and has done countless campaigns against racism in the building and on campus," Yaqoob said.

"I was actually really shocked. And then … I was disappointed, and then realized, you know what — I'm not shocked. This is just anger. This is what I expected from a colonial institution like University of Regina."

In a followup email sent to students on Thursday — a copy of which was also provided to CBC — the professor apologized and said that his comments on race and nationality were "inappropriate and wrong."

His followup email said he did not intend to be discriminatory or harassing and that he is in the process of training to gain a better understanding of "respect, equity and diversity."

The chemistry professor wrote that he had learned from his mistake and that he will be more "cognisant" of the language he uses in the future.

As of publication, East had not responded to a request from CBC News for comment.

'No genuine apology'

Yaqoob also received a copy of East's second email and felt like the the punishment for East isn't enough.

"There was no genuine apology there. There were no actions that were being taken other than just sensitivity training," she said.

That's why she decided to share a screenshot of the email on a thread on Twitter condemning the incident on Thursday.

It quickly went viral, with many condemning the email. Others came forward, sharing their campus experiences of being on the receiving end of racist comments or micro-agressions.

The U of R provided its statement shortly before noon on Friday confirming racist remarks had been made, but did not provide direct responses to a detailed list of questions submitted by CBC News.

"The University of Regina unconditionally condemns racism in all its forms and fully supports equity, diversity, and inclusion on our campus," the university's statement said.

It does say that the senior staff at the university immediately launched an investigation after becoming aware of the email, and engaged with student leadership.

Yaqoob says that training should be provided on an ongoing basis.

"I feel like training after an incident has happened doesn't hold the professor accountable, but instead is like a slap on the wrist to say, 'OK, well, now you have an opportunity to learn,'" she said.

"But again, how about all the victims who have had to deal with the harassment and the trauma that's sitting in with him now?"

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