After making several sexist comments in a Physics 211 lecture Tuesday afternoon, associate professor David Davis has been officially suspended from teaching.
Upset students posted their concerns regarding Davis’s comments on Twitter, where the incident gained traction. Many students, including Maira Haque, a third-year studying human biology, posted on Twitter about how during class, Davis was rude and condescending to female students and made several misogynistic comments as “jokes.”
According to Cheyenne Bradford, a third-year studying human biology and student in the class, Davis called on a female student who had forgotten her assignment at home. Bradford said Davis then asked her if she had been dropped on her head as a child and that's why she had memory loss.
After calling on another female who also didn’t have the assignment with her, Davis reportedly called the women in his class “useless.”
At that moment, Haque said that is when she decided to speak up about the comments.
“As soon as I heard that, I was like, ‘Why are we putting up with this?’” Haque said. “I was like ‘We are paying thousands of dollars in tuition just for you to get up here and yell at us?’ And I thought I was being polite, but I just told him that instead of being condescending, just do your job, and I guess that resonated with a lot of people because everyone started clapping.”
When Haque confronted Davis, he reportedly said that it was a joke.
“Obviously women are not useless,” Davis said in an audio recording of the incident. “If they were useless, we wouldn’t exist as a species, so it was a joke."
The university issued a statement about what took place during the lecture, saying it was not acceptable and did not align with NC State values.
"The faculty member has been immediately suspended from teaching while this incident is being further investigated,” the statement said. “At NC State we take pride in our campus culture which values and strives to live our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity."
Students then were directed to contact the Bias Impact Response Team with their concerns.
Those in the class received an email from Paul Huffman, head of the physics department, on Wednesday expressing apologies from the physics department for Davis’s comments and stating Davis would no longer be the instructor for the PY 211 class.
Additionally, Puffman stated that at the next class he, Chris McGahan, dean of the college of sciences, and a representative from the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity would be present.
Haque said she thinks Davis’s declaration of his comments being a joke speaks to a larger challenge facing women in STEM.
“For me, it's just been these tiny instances and moments where you are a woman in a STEM field and you know that people don’t think highly of you,” Haque said. “It's hard to put it into words, but you just know there's a different power dynamic; if you are a woman in STEM you know what I am talking about.”
Haque said that her overall experience at NC State has been positive, so having an incident such as this occur was shocking.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that at NC State from a professor,” Haque said. “All of my teachers have been so great, compassionate, wonderful; they really want you to succeed, and then to get to this class and hear this professor say that was just so shocking.”