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LETTER: 4 Kelley students react to professor’s tweets



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One side of the bridge crossing Jordan Avenue near the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center was painted to say, “No Bigots Allowed” sometime in the night between Nov. 20-21, 2019. The message is in response to Kelley School of Business professor Eric Rasmusen retweeting an article on Twitter stating women are “destroying academia.” Ty Vinson

After Kelley School of Business professor Charles Trzcinka’s tweets came to the public’s attention, we asked Kelley students to share their opinions about his tweets specifically and the business school’s handling of racism and bigotry in general. The following are excerpts from some of the responses we received, which were edited for length and style. 

The races of respondents are included to give some context for their responses. Responses submitted without names or IU email addresses were not included, and parts of some of the following responses appeared in this article. The IDS opinion desk thanks everyone who submitted a response.

Kalea Miao is an East Asian (Chinese) student.

Seeing these tweets makes me incredibly angry. I am appalled and disappointed that anyone, Kelley-affiliated or otherwise, would have such racist views. The "Wuhan virus" is especially hurtful for me to see. My identity as an Asian-American has always made me feel like an outlier, both in Kelley and in my day-to-day life. 

COVID-19 has put a spotlight on this part of my identity, and a harmful one at that. Hate crimes against Asian-Americans have grown through the course of the pandemic, and phrases like the "Wuhan virus" only fan the flames. Choosing such racially charged language is ignorant at best and malicious at worst. Individuals of Asian descent, as well as other BIPOC, are always seen as "foreign" or "different" and therefore "dangerous." 

Allowing racists to be in positions of power, especially in the field of education, only perpetuates this and other harmful beliefs. I am disappointed that Kelley would allow such an individual to teach their students, especially considering that this is not the first instance of a racist faculty member. 

I have learned so much as a student at Kelley, and I have been taught by some amazing faculty members. However, my individual experience does not negate the fact that Kelley is still a predominantly white school, nor did it come without experiences of discrimination because of my race. Kelley's failure to support students of color and take action against racist and prejudiced faculty members is extremely disappointing. Condemning racist behavior without taking action is being complacent and implies a university cares more about its faculty than its students.

Szi Kiat Lee is an Asian student.

This is a disgusting and blatant display of racism that should not be tolerated in a prestigious institution like the Kelley School of Business. Not only does he embody what is wrong with our society right now, he is the second faculty coming out of the Kelley School of Business with extremely problematic and tone deaf views. This only serves the stereotype that all Kelley people only care about the economy and will slit someone’s throat for a nickel more in profit. Fire this man.

Jake McCarty is a white student.

I don't think acknowledging the symptoms of our broken system is racist. They both are bad jokes, but who is being harmed? It would probably be more worthwhile to write an article about why homes in Black neighborhoods are devalued.

Trina Grogan is a white student.

I was a student of Eric Rasmusen’s in the fall, when his tweets were made public. The fact that this is the second incident in less than a year is absolutely unacceptable. It’s clear that the business school needs to do a much better job of reckoning with historical links between capitalism and racism because the school has had multiple professors make comments such as these, not to mention the students. 

My experience in the business school was very positive overall, and many of the professors are not racist and actively fight against these beliefs, but these professors are giving Kelley a reputation it needs to reckon with. There is clearly a business school culture that makes people feel comfortable or act complicit with their racist views that we have to do better at fighting against. 

I strongly encourage Kelley to consider a mandatory course on systemic racism and how it relates to business, and to have a training for faculty as well.I would encourage IU and (Dean Kesner) to do a better job of implementing anti-racist culture throughout the school to discourage people like this from continuing to work at Kelley or beginning to in the first place and take a look at their hiring practices to ensure people like this professor and Eric Rasmusen are not hired in the future. Instead, the school should ensure that voices from a diverse background are hired, heard and uplifted.

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