Student outraged after U of R prof sends email with 'racist remarks'
The University of Regina is investigating after a professor sent students an email with what it deemed “racist remarks” — for which he has since apologized — but one student contends this is not an isolated incident.
Aysha Yaqoob, who is currently working toward her master of education at the U of R, said she was shocked when a friend sent her an email he had received from his chemistry professor.
The email was sent by Allan East to multiple students on May 10, letting them know they had received a grade of “not yet reported” or NR for cheating on a final exam.
“I could not help but notice that all 14 of you cheaters have East Indian last names,” the email said. “None of the Canadian or other international students cheated. You must not cheat in Canada. Canadians do not like cheaters.”
Yaqoob posted screenshots of the email to social media in the hopes of letting other students know they did not need to accept this type of behaviour. She said the students who were immediately impacted did not feel safe reaching out to the university for help.
“They had said it was not a comfortable position to do so, just because they were still awaiting their marks,” she said.
The University of Regina said in an emailed statement it was aware of a faculty member who had “sent an email that contained racist remarks aimed at a specific ethnic group of students in their class.”
After learning of the email, the U of R said it took “immediate action,” launching an investigation into the incident and speaking with the students’ union.
“Due to its obligations under privacy legislation, the University is unable to discuss the details related to the specific actions taken but can confirm corrective actions and disciplinary measures have been implemented,” the statement said, noting that the U of R “unconditionally condemns racism in all its forms.”
The Leader-Post reached out to East for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.
East apologized to the students in a second email sent on Thursday, more than two weeks after the first email, saying his comments “were inappropriate and wrong.”
“Although my intention was never to be discriminatory or harassing, I understand how my choice in words have caused harm and for that I am deeply sorry,” his apology read.
He went on to say that he is “in the process of receiving training and education to gain a better understanding of respect, equity and diversity in relation to the work and learning environment.”
But Yaqoob alleged this is not the first time students have faced racism at the hands of a U of R professor. As a student of Pakistani heritage, she has experienced numerous micro-aggressions during her time as a student at the U of R. She was shocked to hear of the many students facing more direct forms of racism.