SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A heated dispute between a student and her professor over the term “genocide” has sparked at new debate at Sacramento State.
Chiitaanibah Johnson, 19, claims in an interview with Indian Country Media Network she was kicked out of class for using genocide to refer to the Native American experience.
The report is generating a lot of buzz on campus.
“That’s exactly what happened to them, there was a genocide with Native Americans,” said student Justine Harston. “I think we like to stay away from using terminology that makes us guilty.”
Johnson told Indian Country Media Network that her professor accused her of “hijacking” his class and kicked her out, all because she stood up to him when he said Native Americans did not face genocide.
Some students are seeing the professor’s side.
“If you’re impeding other students’ learning, you should be removed,” said student Stefany Ensor.
But the sophomore went on to tell the publication she had no choice but to confront her professor after seeing his apparent disdain for the term in the context of Native Americans.
After speaking to the publication, Johnson backed off from media requests and says she doesn’t want to talk until she reaches a resolution with the college.
A note posted to Johnson’s front door read: “My family and I do not wish to comment further on this matter until we have met with Sacramento State University officials. We hope to reach an amicable and just resolution to this issue and would prefer to respect their opportunity to respond.”
Robert S. Nelsen, Sacramento State’s president, responded to CBS13’s inquiry about the incident with a statement, reading:
“Sacramento State was very concerned upon learning about this incident and the allegations surrounding it. The University would like to make it clear that our student, Chiitaanibah Johnson, was not expelled or disenrolled from this history course. Under University policy, a professor cannot unilaterally disenroll a student from a class.”
For now, the incident has students talking.
“It was a genocide they tried to wipe [them] out so that they could take over the land,” Harston said.
“If you have that big of an issue with it, then talk to the teacher after class,” Ensor said.
Johnson, who spoke briefly to CBS13 over the phone Sunday night, says she doesn’t know if she will return to class Tuesday.