CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Students at West Virginia State University have mounted a grassroots campaign to show support for a beloved professor, in the hopes the school will reconsider its decision not to renew that professor's contract.
The students will hold a rally on campus at 9 a.m. today to draw attention to the issue and urge the university to be more transparent in its decision-making process.
"It's not a threat," said Cheryl Laws, one of the students organizing the rally. "It's more of a plea. We're mature, educated adults."
Students say Sundjata ibn-Hyman, an associate professor of sociology, was voted "professor of the year" by the student body. Donna Simon, a university spokeswoman, denied the validity of that distinction, saying the school doesn't hold elections for a "professor of the year."
The voting was done through a write-in ballot in tandem with an election for student government positions.
Simon did confirm that ibn-Hyman's contract has not been renewed beyond May, but refused to say why, citing privacy limitations in discussing personnel matters.
When students heard ibn-Hyman had been let go, some were outraged. Together they embarked on a quest to root out the cause of his ouster, and to try to reverse the university's decision.
"When you sit in his classroom, you think this is what a teacher should be," said Courtney Smith, a junior criminal justice major who is also helping to organize the rally. "I don't understand why they're not duplicating him, but instead they're getting rid of him."