Boston University students have asked the University’s administration and history department to re-evaluate grades received from a professor and former BU Ph.D. student after the fellow was exposed as an author of white nationalist online content written under various pseudonyms.
Benjamin Welton is said to have written numerous white supremacist, misogynist and xenophobic articles and books under four pen names over the course of several years, the HuffPost reported in a briefing. published last Wednesday.
Until recently, it was enrolled as a doctorate in history. student at the College of Arts and Sciences and worked as a lecturer in classes HI 151 “The Emerging United States until 1865” and IR 349 “History of International Relations, 1900-1945” under the professors Brendan McConville and Michael McGuire, respectively.
Welton supervised and graded dozens of articles and courses during his tenure as a teacher. His profile was removed from the BU History website last Tuesday.
Welton did not respond to a request for comment.
The history department published a statement Wednesday morning confirming that Welton had “deviated” from the program and that the ministry was not aware of its activities.
The statement also said the department is currently reviewing the grades of affected students.
“We want to thank these courageous students who have come forward to share their concerns and will communicate directly with these students about our investigation,” the statement said.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley confirmed Welton was no longer enrolled in college. He also noted a doctorate. students have a service requirement – usually in the form of educational scholarships – as part of their enrollment.
Riley declined to comment further, citing federal privacy regulations.
One of the authors of the open letter, a student who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said Welton was one of two TFs from HI 151 when they took the course in fall 2019 – a class of about 100 students.
The student said that initially when they contacted the history department to request a reassessment on the day the open letter was written, they were concerned about BU’s policy regarding undergraduate grievances – who requires students to file “within six weeks of the official posting of the grade” – could complicate matters.
The petition, which was written ahead of the department’s statement that they would work to reassess grades, writes that BU should “review” this policy and that affected students were open to options such as credit or no credit, a ” A ”or increase in marks per letter, resubmission of copies and exams for external review and / or implementation of a system to review marks awarded in“ extenuating circumstances ”.
The anonymous student said he recognized the difficulties in finding a fair solution to the review of grades, but added that an option such as having students to retake those classes would place an “undue burden” on them.
Hayley Thompson, a rising junior from Wheelock College of Education and Human Development and one of the authors of the open letter, said Welton would disproportionately distribute the grades when she got her as TF in the fall of 2019 for HI 151.
“The only people who usually got really good grades were either history students or white males,” she said. “Pretty much not everyone got an ‘A’ despite their best efforts. “
Thompson added that while she did not attend Welton’s office hours herself, she knew of classmates who did, to no avail.
“They were so angry every time we got papers back because of their low grades,” she said, “and it was like barely passing grades.”
Nina Silber, chair of the history department, wrote in an email that she had inquired with the dean’s office about the process for changing grades.
“The BU History Department condemns, in the strongest possible terms, all expressions of white nationalism, racism and misogyny and we are actively working to ensure that these principles are translated into everyday practice,” a- she added.
Grace Link, a CAS graduate in 2021, had Welton as her sole TF for IR 349 - a class of at least 100 students – during the spring semester 2019.
“He always wanted to do his own thing apart from the class,” she said. “He was just running his own teaching session, and it just didn’t relate at all to what we were learning in class.”
Link said Welton was a harsh evaluator of her other international relations courses and often graded based on details covered in her tangential discussions rather than what the professor taught in her lectures.
In an email, Professor McGuire IR 349 wrote whenever he is assigned to a fellow or scoring assistant he offers students the option to appeal their grade if they think they are. it is unfair or has not received satisfactory feedback.
“As a half Mexican of heritage and culture,” he noted, “I have always believed in offering a fair student assessment system that gives undergraduates the possibility of discussing with me any problem of academic injustice ”.
McGuire declined to comment on Welton, citing federal privacy regulations.
CAS Elder Carly McCreary said it was fair to believe that Welton’s lessons, grades and assessments were affected by her beliefs.
“A lot of people forget that we are paying for our education,” she said, “and I think in the event that our educators have some pretty despicable values and programs, it compromises our learning experience.”
McCreary added that she had Welton as TF in IR 349 in Spring 2019 and remembers him as “normal and fairly knowledgeable”.
One of Welton’s plays published Under the pseudonym Jake Bowyer, immigrants from developing countries are the cause of rapes on college campuses. In light of this, Thompson said it would be particularly unfair to leave the grades of immigrants and people of color as they are.
“It would just show that [BU] usually [doesn’t] care about the comfort of their students who are not white and male rich, ”she said.
The anonymous student said he wanted to stress that Welton is not an isolated case, but the product of a systemic problem among all academics.
“It’s not just Benjamin Welton,” they said.
So far, the open letter has received over 3,500 likes on Instagram, and the change.org petition has garnered nearly 300 signatures, with over 60 donors.
The student said they and many other classmates wrote detailed reviews of Welton during their end-of-semester course evaluations, but never saw any consequences.
“I’m really so tired of having my future, grades, and GPA dependent on all these people who just don’t respect me and their students as much,” the student said.