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Shannon Gibney, MCTC prof, also took heat for structural racism comments in 2009

Shannon Gibney
Shannon Gibney

After he read our post about the official reprimand professor Shannon Gibney received for controversial comments she made about white privilege during her Intro to Mass Communication course, a former MCTC student named Ryan got in touch to tell us about a similar incident involving Gibney that happened back in January 2009.

THE BACKSTORY, ALONG WITH 200+ COMMENTS: MCTC prof reprimanded for alienating whites during racism discussion

At the time, Ryan (he asked us to withhold his last name) was an editor for City College News (CCN), MCTC's student newspaper. Gibney was invited to speak during one of the paper's editorial meetings. According to Ryan, she brought along students from a journalism class she was teaching.

Gibney used the occasion to talk about structural racism and the role the media plays in perpetuating it. According to Ryan, she at one point singled out the white members of the editorial team and criticized them for not doing more to root out the bias implicit in the paper.

Those criticisms offended Ryan, and after the meeting he sent Gibney an email sharing his concerns.

Here's an unedited excerpt from Ryan's email to Gibney:

I found the nature of your comments to be inflamitory, racist, and sexist--"its been white men." A statment such as this that implicates some hidden discrimination within our instituion in one blanket hatefull generalization is both unprofesstional and violates the mission statement of MCTC. I would ask you to stop such gross generalizations because they are indeed racist, sexist, and simply hatefull. It would be the same as standing up in class and stating that, "I hate all these black women because they always are irationaly screaming at other people."

In her reply, Gibney didn't back down from her stance that CCN perpetuates structural racism.

"[W]e do need to have a more open and truthful discussion about the history of CCN and the journalism program, and why it has largely been staffed and run by white men for most of its history," Gibney wrote. "If the CCN is as objective and fair as you would have the rest of us believe, then why has every single student of color editor left the organization in recent years, feeling used and unheard, and taken advantage of?"

But in her reply, Gibney copied a number of MCTC students and faculty -- a move Ryan says violated his rights under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. He ended up filing a harassment complaint against Gibney.

"To public airing of my private correspondence with an educator opened the flood gates for me to be harassed and criticized by multiple individuals that became privy to the private email conversation," Ryan said in an email to City Pages.

Here's the correspondence Ryan refers to, beginning with his email, continuing with Gibney's response, and also including some of the replies from students and faculty Gibney copied in her reply to Ryan:

MCTC Professor Gibney Emails

Ryan, now 29 and living in the Los Angeles area after earning a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California-Berkeley, told City Pages that while he doesn't think Gibney was formally reprimanded for violating his privacy, it's his understanding she received a verbal admonishment from MCTC administrators. He said he never communicated with Gibney again after the above email exchange.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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