Was Race a Factor in Criticism of Latina Student?

Wordpress: VivaTiffany (Tiffany Martìnez)
Wordpress: VivaTiffany (Tiffany Martìnez)

What would you do if a professor implied that a paper you wrote was not your own words?

Especially if you were on the Dean’s List and a nationally acknowledged scholar?

In her blog, “Academia, Love Me Back,” Tiffany Martinez said her professor at Suffolk University questioned whether she alone wrote her paper. She said she felt embarrassed, “disrespected and invalidated.” She mentioned that her articles had been published by education affiliates. She wrote about the obstacles she faced to reached her academic status.

“As a McNair Fellow and student scholar, I’ve presented at national conferences in San Francisco, San Diego, and Miami. I have crafted a critical reflection piece that was published in a peer-reviewed journal managed by the Pell Institute for the Study of Higher Education and Council for Opportunity in Education. I have consistently juggled at least two jobs and maintained the status of a full-time student and Dean’s list recipient since my first year at Suffolk University,” Martinez wrote.

Martinez is from Bronx, New York and a first-generation college student, a first-generation United States citizen, and a Latina of Dominican descent. She said she aspires to getting a master’s degree in higher education and someday become a professor.

Tiffany Martinez (Facebook)
Tiffany Martinez (Facebook)

In her blog, Martinez showed a photograph of her paper where the professor circled the word “hence,” and wrote “this is not your word,” underlining “not” twice. Martinez opined that bias comes from her appearance and ethnicity.

My last name and appearance immediately instills a set of biases before I have the chance to open my mouth,” she wrote in her post.

The New York Post reported that Suffolk University officials are reviewing the incident. The Huffington Post reported that when they reached out to the university for a statement, they were forwarded a letter that read, “As an institution that was founded on the highest principles of inclusivity and respect, we take this and any such concern extremely seriously. … As a community we are not perfect, and we make mistakes as an institution and as individuals.” 

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Martinez mentioned meeting with officials in the school’s sociology department, but said she has not spoken with the professor.

On November 1, WCVB reported that the universities acting president, Marisa Kelly, released a statement stating that under her order, all Suffolk faculty are required to take a “Leveraging Diversity and Navigating Identity” workshop.

She also expresses concern about students feeling the way Martinez does.

Martinez’s blog views have been shared thousands of times and received thousands of comments from people sharing similar stories, words of support and the occasional hate-comment. “#HENCE” has also been trending since Martinez’s story went viral.

Have you experienced or suspected bias because of your name or your appearance? Please leave a Comment and post on our Facebook page, thanks!

Arnella Sandy

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