Lawmakers allege the UIC dentistry professor used racist imagery and statements

Lawmakers said Monday that racist teachings and unequal treatment of students have been going on for years at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, including racist imagery and remarks by one faculty member in particular.

The images included a photo of a man with a noose around his neck, and the statements included the use of the N-word and a question about the “natural hair” of a student of color, the lawmakers said in a letter demanding school officials address the situation.

U.S. Reps. Robin Kelly and Danny Davis and state Rep. Sean Ford signed on letter from November 21. It was sent to university president Timothy Killeen with a request for a meeting by November 30.

“We are writing today to condemn in the strongest possible terms the disturbing racist imagery and tropes of a UIC College of Dentistry professor,” the letter reads. “There are also additional reports that this professor uses racist imagery and tropes in his teaching.”

“Students and alumni of the UIC College of Dentistry have told us that racist teachings and unequal treatment of students have been going on for years,” the letter said. “A recent discovery made us aware of a loop that has been appearing in a PowerPoint presentation for seven years, which is alarming. … This professor continued to teach without response or action from the university. From being asked about their “natural hair” to being called the N-word, students of color are reportedly still being targeted at the university.

University officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The letter also asks when the university became aware of the professor’s behavior and what steps were taken in response.

The professor was not named in the letter to focus on “systemic” issues, spokeswoman Kelly Eliana Locke said.

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