A graduate student and teaching assistant at the University of Pennsylvania who said that she calls on Black women before others in the classroom will not be playing the educator role next semester. Stephanie McKellop called out “admin choices” as the reason for her time off in a tweet posted on December 5 after her use of progressive stacking gained national attention in October.
Social media users debated about how race and privilege influence teaching in the classroom after McKellop’s tweets. The matter caught the attention of University of Penn. administrators, who are looking into progressive stacking, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
McKellop’s bold message not only said that she calls on Black female students first, but she only calls on White men as a last resort. The tweet was viewed by several users as a challenge or clapback against white supremacy in the classroom. “I will always call on my Black women students first. Other POC [People of Color] get second tier priority. WW [white women] come next. And, if I have to, white men,” her October 16 tweet read.
McKellop said her decision to skip teaching in the spring after the tweets caused a strong reaction was unrelated to progressive stacking. She has to take time off to study for exams, she said to DP. “I am not being punished by the university — I am studying for my exams,” she wrote. “History PhD students teach 4 semesters as part of our funding, and I am still teaching 4 semesters. My comprehensive exams are coming up, and that is why I’m focused on those. Comprehensive exams are a normal part of a PhD process.”
Declining to teach next semester will also be impossible because the school would want to avoid a surplus of TAs that would exceed their needs, McKellop explained, referring to “admin choices.” She loves teaching and would continue to do it, but can’t teach for more than four semesters, she added. University officials have been tight-lipped about any updates with McKellop.
SOURCE: The Daily Pennsylvanian