Campus, Investigative, News

COM writing professor on paid leave, under investigation

After allegations of discriminatory comments, Boston University College of Communication writing professor Tinker Ready is under investigation, according to several documents and emails obtained by The Daily Free Press. 

Ready was recently placed on paid administrative leave, although The Daily Free Press was unable to verify if this is directly connected to the investigation. 

A complaint was filed with BU’s Equal Opportunity Office by COM freshman Shelby Rose Long who was a student in Ready’s COM CO 201, Introduction to COM Writing class this semester, until late February. In the complaint, Long alleged that Ready made insensitive comments regarding students who don’t speak English as a first language, and accused them of likely using AI to write their papers.

Empty chairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, where professor Tinker Ready taught a class until recently. Ready has been placed on administrative leave amidst an investigation into comments made to students. KATE KOTLYAR/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

The report detailed alleged interactions between Long and Ready, where Ready allegedly made “disparaging” comments to Long about Asian students. The Daily Free Press has not been able to independently verify these interactions beyond the complaint. 

The report stated that Ready handed Long a roster of the class and said, “‘The class is half Asian. They didn’t tell me how to teach that kind of student.’” 

On Feb. 20, after a disagreement in class over an assignment, Ready called Long into the hallway where they spoke for several minutes. At the end of their conversation, Long alleged Ready said to her, “Can you not be a f—ing b—tch this whole semester?” This event and exchange were outlined in the EOO report as well. 

Long left the class shortly after the interaction and filed the complaint with the EOO the same day. She was immediately moved to a new section of COM 201 with a different professor. 

The EOO issued a no-contact order on Feb. 22, prohibiting Ready from contacting Long in any way during the investigation. 

The investigation was formally opened on March 4. The EOO declined to comment, stating that the office does not comment on reports or investigations.

Ready violated her no-contact order, commenting on a YouTube video Long posted on March 6. The comment critiqued Long’s grammar halfway through the video. Upon noticing, Long immediately reported the violation to the EOO.

“Please assist. She has broken the no contact order. I feel very uncomfortable,” Long wrote in an email sent on March 12 to the EOO investigator assigned to the case. 

The EOO told Long that it would consult Human Resources and COM Dean Mariette DiChristina to “address the violation of the No Contact Order, as well as prevent any further communication from Prof. Ready to [Long].”

In an email, Ready wrote she was “barred from campus.” She also wrote she was asked to have no contact with students and could not answer questions at this time.

On March 23, students in Ready’s current COM 201 class, received an email from Michael Dowding, master lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations and director of the COM writing program, in which he wrote that he would be “leading [the] class … on an interim/substitute basis.”

In an email on March 27, Dowding wrote to The Daily Free Press that he is “quite excited” to act as an interim substitute instructor for as long as he is needed but did not share additional details.

An international student, who asked to remain anonymous because she is currently in Ready’s COM 201 class, expressed a positive opinion about Ready, saying they felt like she paid “special attention to the Chinese students” in the class. 

“When I [went] to her office hours, she gave thoughtful advice, so I still don’t know why she’s being removed,” the student said. “But I really appreciate her during the class.”

Long and another student in this semester’s class recalled Ready specifically misremembering Asian students’ names throughout classes. In interviews, several of Ready’s former students recalled similar instances dating back to Spring 2022. 

Lianna Vaughan, a senior in COM who took Ready’s class in Spring 2023, recalled similar comments regarding Asian students’ names. 

“She even asked someone if they have an easier name that she could call them,” Vaughan said.

Tatum Hennessy, a student who took Ready’s class in Spring 2023, said she had a neutral experience in the professor’s class and that “nothing horrible” happened to her during the class. However, she recalls Ready made several comments regarding Asian students.

“She openly admitted to the class that she has difficulty distinguishing between Asian students because either their names are hard [to pronounce] or because they somehow look the same to her,” Hennessy said.

She also added that the comments seemed to stem from a lack of awareness rather than malice toward students.

BU policy maintains a “Presumption of Non-Responsibility,” during investigations that the “Respondent is presumed ‘not responsible’ for violating BU’s Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Policy,” until a determination is reached by investigators. 

DiChristina did not comment on the investigation but reaffirmed COM’s “commitment to providing a supportive environment” for students.

Ready remains on BU’s summer registry for COM 201, but does not appear on the registration page for the Fall 2024 semester.

 

Tatum Hennessy wrote for The Daily Free Press from September to December 2022. She was not involved in the reporting, writing or editing of this article. 

Managing Co-Editors Jennifer Lambert and Daisy Levine and Campus Co-Editor Kiera McDonald are employed by COM. They were not involved in the reporting, writing or editing of this article.

This is a developing story and will be updated. If you had an experience you’d like to share — or know of someone who might have — please reach out to The Daily Free Press at investigations@dailyfreepress.com

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