Meredith College professor accused of using racially charged language in class

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A Meredith College professor is under investigation after being accused of using racially charged language in the classroom.

“Meredith College must be held accountable,” said Sarah Marshall, a Meredith College alumna.

When Marshall first heard accusations of racism at her alma mater, she says she wasn’t surprised.

“I have personally experienced racism from certain professors and the administration at-large,” said Marshall.

In mid-November, students said Dr. Veronique Machelidon, a tenured professor with over 20 years of experience, was using racially insensitive language, including the “n-word,” during a lecture on culture and language.

“She was lifting that racist belief by saying this isn’t a racist word to me or to others, but it may be offensive to you,” said Yolanda Taylor.

Those concerns were reported directly to Meredith College Dean Sarah Roth, who, according to Marshall, asked the students to meet with Machelidon to voice their concerns.

“It’s not the students’ responsibility to educate their professors,” said Marshall.

Machelidon declined comment on this story.

A spokesperson for Meredith College told CBS17 they first learned about the Nov. 2020 incident in mid-February.

“It’s unacceptable that this behavior was not made aware to the president, and these students didn’t receive a resolution in 2020,” said Marshall.  “It’s 2021.”

With an ongoing investigation Meredith College released this statement:

Meredith College leadership learned in mid-February about a professor using racially offensive language in a class during the previous semester. An investigation was immediately launched. As we continue to investigate what happened, we acknowledge that this incident is hurtful for our students and others in our community. We are clarifying the processes for reporting to leadership to ensure our students feel heard, safe, and supported. We regret the pain this incident has caused our community and are addressing the situation. Additional details cannot be released about this personnel matter. Meredith is committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive and respectful community, as evidenced in part by our college-wide anti-racism initiative launched in the summer of 2020.

“Meredith students can’t condone a professor that feels comfortable using hate speech,” said Marshall.

A group of Meredith College alumni and community activists sent this list of demands to the school:

  • Release a public apology from Meredith College, Professor Dr. Machelidon, and Dean Dr. Sarah Roth
  • Conduct a formal investigation into Dean Sarah Roth
  • Ensure the immediate re-assignment of all Black, indigenous, students of color from Dr. Machelidon’s student advisee roster to the academic advisor of their choosing as appropriate
  • Provide restitution of course fees to impacted students as determined by the investigation
  • Ensure all impacted students’ records are cleared of any impact to grade or status
  • Guarantee financial resources for mental health support from licensed Black mental health professionals and ensure these services are accessible to all impacted students
  • Require mandatory and ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all non-BIPOC Meredith College faculty, staff, and employees.
  • Ensure the immediate firing of Dr. Machelidon without paid leave or severance package
  • Institute racial equity and social justice courses and enrichment opportunities as a part of graduation requirements for all students.

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