Diversity professor accused of verbally attacking students after terrorism remark cleared of any wrongdoing
George Washington University is standing by its diversity professor after a complaint to the U.S Department of Education Office of Civil Rights alleged she created a psychologically traumatizing class environment, which students said caused them to cry and go on antidepressants.
GWU released a summary findings Monday of an internal probe on its clinical psychologist, Lara Sheehi, which found “no evidence that the discourse crossed the line.”
Sheehi, who teaches a mandatory diversity class, “took offense” and publicly berated a student for Islamophobia for using the term “terrorist attack,” the original complaint, filed in January, said.
“We were demeaned, and she twisted our words to make us look like the problem, which is pretty classic anti-Semitism, scapegoating the Jew, gaslighting the Jew, making us seem like we’re the issue,” a student told the Daily Caller.
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Diversity professor and clinical psychologist subject to complaint by Jewish organization for allegedly creating a hostile environment in a mandatory class. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)
One student reported “crying” after Sheehi brought in a speaker who, the complaint said, justified violence against civilians in Israel.
According to the complaint, when a student told Sheehi they felt “unsafe in a program that would invite a speaker who endorsed violence against Israeli civilians and who, therefore, may celebrate the murder of her Israeli relatives. In response, Professor Sheehi called the student’s comment a ‘damaging Islamophobic anti-Palestinian’ comment and added that ‘a stone is nothing compared to an army.’”
“This has had a very real impact on myself and the other students,” a student told The Jewish Journal. “More than one of us has had to go on antidepressants as a result of this. I had to pause my part-time job, couldn’t keep food down, couldn’t sleep because this is really an assault on my identity in a class… It’s had a real physical and psychological impact.”
GWU did not offer comment when asked by Fox News Digital about the emotional damage alleged to have been caused on Jewish students by its clinical psychologist in the mandatory diversity class.
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Palestinians chant slogans and wave Hamas flags during a protest against Israel in Jerusalem’s Old City, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
The students alleged Sheehi began to run a smear campaign against them after they complained about being subjected to anti-Semitism, the complaint said.
“She turned the faculty against the Jewish students by spreading lies about us and our conduct, she disparaged us in front of our classmates, calling us Islamophobes,” a student told The Algemeiner.
The students said they were subjected to “disciplinary proceedings” which “effectively silenced us.”
GWU denied any retaliation in their internal investigation.
Lara Sheehi claimed a student’s use of the term ‘terror attack’ was ‘Islamophobic. (ANAS BABA/AFP via Getty Images)
StandWithUs, an Israel education group, blasted the university, stating, “The administration’s position that students who raise concerns about identity-based discrimination have ‘a deficiency in a skill or subject matter area’ is precisely what makes the process retaliatory here. Furthermore, to claim that this process, which could result in a permanent black mark on these students’ records and irreparable damage to their future careers, is neither discriminatory nor disciplinary is at best ignorant of reality and at worst intentionally misleading.”
Sheehi is being represented by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
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They previously said Sheehi was “being wrongfully accused of discrimination and antisemitism” due to “a larger campaign that is politically and ethnically motivated against Dr. Sheehi because of her scholarship and political activism outside the classroom.”
“We understand that these claims would otherwise not have resulted in such an exaggerated and prejudicial response by [George Washington], nor would they have found traction in public opinion if Dr. Sheehi were not Arab and her scholarship and activism were not focused on Palestine. These slander campaigns, intended to silence dissenting voices, are rooted in anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian racism, a form of racism that silences, excludes, erases, stereotypes, defames, and dehumanizes Arabs and their narratives.”
Hannah Grossman is an Associate Editor at Fox News Digital.
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.