Berea College professor apologizes for racially charged tweet

Student named in 'mean-spirited post'

lblackford@herald-leader.comDecember 9, 2011 

A Berea College professor has apologized for a racially charged comment he made on Twitter earlier this week.

Jason Cohen, an English professor, sent out a tweet that said, "Given a student named TeQuilla, are my worst assumptions unavoidable? #s---mystudentsmakemethink that at the end of the semester, I'm right."

On Tuesday, Cohen sent an email message to all faculty, staff and students to apologize, saying he hoped that one of his students, TeQuilla Berry, and the rest of the Berea community could forgive him.

"I am writing to express my deeply felt remorse for my unprofessional and mean-spirited post," he wrote. ... "In my use of a student's name in a personal post in the world of social media, I neglected my responsibility as a teacher and as a human to my fellow beings. I am most saddened by my own inability to see the destructive impact my remark would have on my relationship with my students, colleagues and peers."

Cohen said he regretted his "blind callousness to matters of race, professional conduct and ethics." In addition, he sent a separate email to some black faculty at Berea, inviting them to a "conversation" about his actions.

"I acknowledge that I acted very badly, and I hope that you can still see me with respect," he wrote.

Cohen has been at Berea since 2008 after receiving his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to the Berea College Web site.

Cohen did not respond to requests for comment.

Berea was the first college in the South to educate black and white students together, until it was forbidden by the Day Law in 1904. The school is one of the most racially diverse in Kentucky, with a minority student enrollment of 30 percent.

Berea College officials issued a statement yesterday saying that by policy, internal personnel issues would not be discussed publicly.

"We attempt daily to live out the college's motto: 'God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,'" Timothy Jordan, director of public relations, said in a statement.

When asked whether Cohen is still employed by the college, Jordan declined to comment.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service