Former Wes Prof Discusses Being Fired By Students

Former AFAM Professor Annemarie Bean‘s time teaching at Wes last year is chronicled in a revealing NY Times Magazine report on how teaching evaluations can affect professors’ careers. Apparently she was fired in part because she didn’t receive the necessary quota of very positive evaluations in her year here, despite generally warm responses by students.

It’s a pretty fascinating look at Wesleyan’s hiring practices, and the power that students can have over professors teaching liberal-artsy courses they don’t like:

Annemarie Bean, who goes by Anna…, is the kind of professor who draws students to small New England liberal-arts colleges like Wesleyan. She is funny, enthusiastic, devoted to her students and passionate about what she teaches. Her subject areas are offbeat and slightly avant-garde, the kind of stuff that students, and their ostensibly liberal faculties, are said to find thrilling: African-American theater, the history of minstrelsy, “whiteness studies”… Beyond her subject matter and top-notch education… she just seems like a good fit for Wesleyan.

She is an alumna of the college, class of ’88; she is informal in her manner, tall and limber like a dancer, bright-eyed, the opposite of stuffy, eminently approachable; and she suggested lunch at It’s Only Natural, the pride of Middletown, Conn., a regional mecca for vegetarian, vegan and macrobiotic dining. (Nothing says “Wesleyan” like lunch at It’s Only Natural, where you eat bulgur wheat beneath paintings by local artists.) Bean knows that she belongs at Wesleyan, which is why she’s especially sad that her students fired her.

They did not actually give her the pink slip, of course, and for that matter Bean did not receive a pink slip. A visiting professor on a one-year contract with the African-American studies department, Bean was fired by not being rehired… According to [Gayle] Pemberton, not enough students had marked “strenuous” to describe their own effort in Bean’s class. Put another way, Bean was being punished for her students’ admitted laziness.

There’s also some hating on jocks in academia:

If you came across the whole pile of evaluations on the sidewalk, you’d form a picture of a somewhat disorganized, technologically inept, very learned, passionate teacher — an acquired taste. It would be clear that her particular cocktail of traits was very appealing to some students, the ones who loved her passion or her subject matter so much that they didn’t think her tendency to be late or frazzled was worth mentioning. You’d see that other students, meanwhile, were unmoved by her considerable energy and deep knowledge — instead, they felt abused by her politics, her scattered style or her deviations from the syllabus.

Bean told me that she had a good sense of who had written the most negative evaluations. “I found there was a small group of mostly white men,” she said, “who sat there the whole time wearing their white hats on backward, sitting there angrily, who didn’t like the class.” The stereotype Bean was invoking is well known to recent college alumni, especially of wealthy Northeastern schools. There is a look popular among athletes and their hangers-on, who wear white baseball caps with the name of a college embroidered above the brim. When you see those boys in class, you do figure — at least I always do — that if they’re not jocks, they’re part of a jockish, frat-boy scene. On a campus like Wesleyan, these are the boys who have not bought into its famously liberal culture. And if you’re Anna Bean, and you’re teaching classes called Whiteness or Blackface Minstrelsy, you worry, despite your best efforts, that they might be suspicious of what you have to say.

Huh. Does anyone have their own highly subjective view of Anna Bean to add here? Backwards-hatted haters skeptical of the value of Whiteness studies, perhaps?

NY Times: Judgment Day

54 thoughts on “Former Wes Prof Discusses Being Fired By Students

  1. Anonymous

    First day of her Whiteness class, she came in an announced that the only person in the class who was allowed to have their phone on at all times was her because she’s a single mom with two kids. Did she think no one else in the class besides her could perhaps also be a single parent??Such issues with her lack of self-examination.

  2. Anonymous

    First day of her Whiteness class, she came in an announced that the only person in the class who was allowed to have their phone on at all times was her because she’s a single mom with two kids.

    Did she think no one else in the class besides her could perhaps also be a single parent??

    Such issues with her lack of self-examination.

  3. Anonymous

    Anna Bean is a cunt. I was in Whiteness. No one liked her. She made us come in the Saturday morning before finals week and sit through 12 30-minute presentations, beginning at something like 10 or 11am. And she was late.

  4. Anonymous

    Anna Bean is a cunt. I was in Whiteness. No one liked her. She made us come in the Saturday morning before finals week and sit through 12 30-minute presentations, beginning at something like 10 or 11am. And she was late.

  5. Anonymous

    Yeah I had her and thought she wasn’t such a great teacher either. But if she was already making bad career choices (like expecting a renewed contract at Wes when it was clearly not a given) this article is the worst career move of all. It makes her seem ridiculous, good luck getting hired after this.

  6. Anonymous

    Yeah I had her and thought she wasn’t such a great teacher either. But if she was already making bad career choices (like expecting a renewed contract at Wes when it was clearly not a given) this article is the worst career move of all. It makes her seem ridiculous, good luck getting hired after this.

  7. Anonymous

    I had a friend who took a class with her at Williams and even he said that although he liked her, “the class was ridiculously easy.”Everyone I knew in that class, all SOCs, seemed to be disappointed by her class.

  8. Anonymous

    I had a friend who took a class with her at Williams and even he said that although he liked her, “the class was ridiculously easy.”

    Everyone I knew in that class, all SOCs, seemed to be disappointed by her class.

  9. Anonymous

    As an alum who was gone way before this prof came to Wes, I read the article and figured it had to be slanted. Wesleyan students don’t give poor evaluations for no reason. Did they bother to interview any students for the NYTimes article? It also makes it look like students have all the agency in hiring/firing – which is untrue (look back on the student protest over the administration initially denying tenure to Allan Isaac).

  10. Anonymous

    As an alum who was gone way before this prof came to Wes, I read the article and figured it had to be slanted. Wesleyan students don’t give poor evaluations for no reason. Did they bother to interview any students for the NYTimes article? It also makes it look like students have all the agency in hiring/firing – which is untrue (look back on the student protest over the administration initially denying tenure to Allan Isaac).

  11. Anonymous

    To reiterate Zach’s message…I think people who took the class should be writing to NYT on this article!

  12. Anonymous

    To reiterate Zach’s message…I think people who took the class should be writing to NYT on this article!

  13. Anonymous

    FUCK ANNA BEAN. sorry to sound so angry but OH MY GOD. i am not a white man but i took blackface minstrelsy with her and i dont even know who the HELL she is talking about in that class. the most active volunteers and participants in that class were mostly white men!! and anna bean is the most inappropriate poor teacher – how that article could say a ‘small minority’ disliked her is beyond me because most of the students i talked to thought she was totally wack, as reflected in the evals.anna bean was in NO WAY up to wesleyan caliber or equipped to teach at all. we discussed her alcohol use, her kids, her boyfriend, and her yoga more than minstrelsy. we watched crap shows like black/white and we even watched music videos which she, herself, admitted were completely unrelated to the course subject.not only that, we had four grades for hte course – two 1 page response papers, a midterm group presentation, and a final paper. she didn’t SHOW UP for one of the midterm presentations – 1/4 of the class received grades arbitrarily. she is really one of the most manipulative and fucked up people i have ever met. wow i am so amazed that she pulled this.

  14. Anonymous

    FUCK ANNA BEAN. sorry to sound so angry but OH MY GOD. i am not a white man but i took blackface minstrelsy with her and i dont even know who the HELL she is talking about in that class. the most active volunteers and participants in that class were mostly white men!! and anna bean is the most inappropriate poor teacher – how that article could say a ‘small minority’ disliked her is beyond me because most of the students i talked to thought she was totally wack, as reflected in the evals.

    anna bean was in NO WAY up to wesleyan caliber or equipped to teach at all. we discussed her alcohol use, her kids, her boyfriend, and her yoga more than minstrelsy. we watched crap shows like black/white and we even watched music videos which she, herself, admitted were completely unrelated to the course subject.

    not only that, we had four grades for hte course – two 1 page response papers, a midterm group presentation, and a final paper. she didn’t SHOW UP for one of the midterm presentations – 1/4 of the class received grades arbitrarily.

    she is really one of the most manipulative and fucked up people i have ever met. wow i am so amazed that she pulled this.

  15. Zach

    I hope that some of the students who were in her class are sending those comments in to the NYT. I think they’re really valuable comments.

  16. Zach

    I hope that some of the students who were in her class are sending those comments in to the NYT. I think they’re really valuable comments.

  17. Anonymous

    First of all, she obviously knows somebody at the new york times, because lots of people get fired who don’t get to give the finger to their former employers in the NYT. As somebody (poc) who was in her class, I can vouch for the fact that she wasn’t up to wesleyan’s standards. People didn’t try because their efforts were not rewarded by good feedback or engagement. The reason I gave her a bad rating was because I was on page 99 while she was still reading the introduction when it came to the material. We were excited for the material, but we never really got to sink our teeth in past what we already knew. It was disappointing to be honest.As much as I am not a fan of the new-england-frat-douchebagsor “newfbags” (use it!), she was just not up to wes standards. We were disappointed by the class. We bought all these books and never read half of them. We busted our ass for the final project, and I can only assume that she gave us a lower grade than we deserved because she couldn’t deal with or understand what we were saying. Also, to write an article for the NYT about how bitter you are that you got not-rehired is so petty. The fact that she blamed it on newfbags is a testament to her own denial about her teaching ability. I know newfbags are a pain. BELIEVE ME. But it wasn’t the material. It was her teaching. No other afam professors get fired because of a few whiny newfbags.

  18. Anonymous

    First of all, she obviously knows somebody at the new york times, because lots of people get fired who don’t get to give the finger to their former employers in the NYT. As somebody (poc) who was in her class, I can vouch for the fact that she wasn’t up to wesleyan’s standards. People didn’t try because their efforts were not rewarded by good feedback or engagement. The reason I gave her a bad rating was because I was on page 99 while she was still reading the introduction when it came to the material. We were excited for the material, but we never really got to sink our teeth in past what we already knew. It was disappointing to be honest.

    As much as I am not a fan of the new-england-frat-douchebags
    or “newfbags” (use it!), she was just not up to wes standards. We were disappointed by the class. We bought all these books and never read half of them. We busted our ass for the final project, and I can only assume that she gave us a lower grade than we deserved because she couldn’t deal with or understand what we were saying.

    Also, to write an article for the NYT about how bitter you are that you got not-rehired is so petty. The fact that she blamed it on newfbags is a testament to her own denial about her teaching ability.

    I know newfbags are a pain. BELIEVE ME. But it wasn’t the material. It was her teaching. No other afam professors get fired because of a few whiny newfbags.

  19. Anonymous

    She sounds like she’s playing the whole victim card here, and that there is definite distaste for white men with both her and the other prof here. And the article seems really stilted. The opening tells us breathlessly how wonderful she is, then later admits she’s a quirky, unfocused professor who didn’t get tenure at Williams. Also, in the real world, who gets a one-year contract and then doesn’t start putting out feelers for another job – whether you may get renewed or not – say 4-6 months in? I mean irons in the fire and all that, right? And even if she thought she might get renewed as a visiting prof, wouldn’t she want to go look for a tenure track job, which she clearly wasn’t going to get at Wes. Or are we the only school who actually have courses on the history of black face mistrallyness or what ever it was?

  20. Anonymous

    She sounds like she’s playing the whole victim card here, and that there is definite distaste for white men with both her and the other prof here. And the article seems really stilted. The opening tells us breathlessly how wonderful she is, then later admits she’s a quirky, unfocused professor who didn’t get tenure at Williams. Also, in the real world, who gets a one-year contract and then doesn’t start putting out feelers for another job – whether you may get renewed or not – say 4-6 months in? I mean irons in the fire and all that, right? And even if she thought she might get renewed as a visiting prof, wouldn’t she want to go look for a tenure track job, which she clearly wasn’t going to get at Wes. Or are we the only school who actually have courses on the history of black face mistrallyness or what ever it was?

  21. Anonymous

    I am a man of color, I am interested in race theory, and I am a passionate student. My efforts in Bean’s class were not strenuous because I felt uninspired. When a professor shows up late, appears unaware of what she’s doing, and repeatedly fails to call out bigoted comments in class, it really is on the professor. I repeat, I am not some stereotype that Bean created–which in itself is problematic, particularly because I found that white students felt very comfortable in Bean’s class–I am naturally drawn to race theory, and I am a student who has a 91 average. From my highly subjective view, Anna Bean was a bad teacher, an exemplar of how not to teach, and the AFAM department, as well as the students who took her class, did the right thing to keep her from wasting more time and money at this school.

  22. Anonymous

    I am a man of color, I am interested in race theory, and I am a passionate student. My efforts in Bean’s class were not strenuous because I felt uninspired. When a professor shows up late, appears unaware of what she’s doing, and repeatedly fails to call out bigoted comments in class, it really is on the professor. I repeat, I am not some stereotype that Bean created–which in itself is problematic, particularly because I found that white students felt very comfortable in Bean’s class–I am naturally drawn to race theory, and I am a student who has a 91 average. From my highly subjective view, Anna Bean was a bad teacher, an exemplar of how not to teach, and the AFAM department, as well as the students who took her class, did the right thing to keep her from wasting more time and money at this school.

  23. Anonymous

    It sort of flies in the face of the intentions of anonymous teaching evaluations to claim to know who wrote which evaluations. Even if you really do know which student wrote which evaluation, you should never reveal that knowledge, or make judgment calls based on that information. It seems highly unethical.Those students were able to write bad evaluations precisely because they didn’t think she would say in a nytimes interview that ‘the angry white men with backwards hats didn’t like my class, I know because I can tell who wrote which evaluations’.

  24. Anonymous

    It sort of flies in the face of the intentions of anonymous teaching evaluations to claim to know who wrote which evaluations. Even if you really do know which student wrote which evaluation, you should never reveal that knowledge, or make judgment calls based on that information. It seems highly unethical.

    Those students were able to write bad evaluations precisely because they didn’t think she would say in a nytimes interview that ‘the angry white men with backwards hats didn’t like my class, I know because I can tell who wrote which evaluations’.

  25. Anonymous

    (This is 6:15 again) I have no doubt that guys like that exist — but to make the blanket assumption that they’re the ones writing negative evaluations is an embarrassing leap for a professor teaching a class on stereotypes.

  26. Anonymous

    (This is 6:15 again) I have no doubt that guys like that exist — but to make the blanket assumption that they’re the ones writing negative evaluations is an embarrassing leap for a professor teaching a class on stereotypes.

  27. johnwesley

    the reporter, Mr. Oppenheimer, appears to egg her on, if only a bit. As in: “The stereotype Bean was invoking is well known to recent college alumni, especially of wealthy Northeastern schools.”

  28. johnwesley

    the reporter, Mr. Oppenheimer, appears to egg her on, if only a bit. As in: “The stereotype Bean was invoking is well known to recent college alumni, especially of wealthy Northeastern schools.”

  29. Anonymous

    Uh, have you taken any kind of social theory course with guys like that in the class? I don’t think she characterized them unfairly as hostile, I’ve definitely been in classes here where that’s the case, a bunch of fratty guys sitting in the back being uncooperative. Makes me wonder why they even bother taking a course they so clearly don’t appreciate or take seriously.

  30. Anonymous

    Uh, have you taken any kind of social theory course with guys like that in the class? I don’t think she characterized them unfairly as hostile, I’ve definitely been in classes here where that’s the case, a bunch of fratty guys sitting in the back being uncooperative. Makes me wonder why they even bother taking a course they so clearly don’t appreciate or take seriously.

  31. Anonymous

    Wow. I’m flabbergasted that a professor who teaches a class on Blackface Minstrels thinks it’s OK to stereotype people like that.With no evidence at all of who was leaving the bad evaluations, she’s decided on her own it was the guys in white hats. Classy.

  32. Anonymous

    Wow. I’m flabbergasted that a professor who teaches a class on Blackface Minstrels thinks it’s OK to stereotype people like that.

    With no evidence at all of who was leaving the bad evaluations, she’s decided on her own it was the guys in white hats. Classy.

  33. Estrella

    Agreed 5:37. If she was able to do what a prof should be able to do she would have at least tried to better engage them rather than write them off. Also I think its an unfair characterization of “athletes and their hangers-on.” Are there guys in DKE, Beta, the lacrosse/football/baseball teams that fit the stereotype? Sure, but many others don’t, and isn’t it ironic and perhaps hypocritical that a professor of a class that dealt with race (and presumably stereotypes) would be so quick to make that comment?As to the article as a whole there is a lot of talk about the validity of teaching evaluations as a whole and I think that saying that people’s evaluations are proportionate to the grades they expect to get is simplistic. I can only speak for myself, but I gave my most scathing evaluation to a pass/fail class and gave glowing evals to profs in classes where I didn’t do that well, there wasn’t really any grade/eval correlation.

  34. Estrella

    Agreed 5:37. If she was able to do what a prof should be able to do she would have at least tried to better engage them rather than write them off.

    Also I think its an unfair characterization of “athletes and their hangers-on.” Are there guys in DKE, Beta, the lacrosse/football/baseball teams that fit the stereotype? Sure, but many others don’t, and isn’t it ironic and perhaps hypocritical that a professor of a class that dealt with race (and presumably stereotypes) would be so quick to make that comment?

    As to the article as a whole there is a lot of talk about the validity of teaching evaluations as a whole and I think that saying that people’s evaluations are proportionate to the grades they expect to get is simplistic. I can only speak for myself, but I gave my most scathing evaluation to a pass/fail class and gave glowing evals to profs in classes where I didn’t do that well, there wasn’t really any grade/eval correlation.

  35. Anonymous

    Look, I’m as happy to give jocks shit as anyone, but this is silly. if the article is correct, they weren’t enough of a presence in the class to completely sway how the evals went. second, if she were an effective professor, maybe she would’ve tried to talk to these men who “didn’t like the class” and make some effort to engage them, instead of just complaining.

  36. Anonymous

    Look, I’m as happy to give jocks shit as anyone, but this is silly. if the article is correct, they weren’t enough of a presence in the class to completely sway how the evals went. second, if she were an effective professor, maybe she would’ve tried to talk to these men who “didn’t like the class” and make some effort to engage them, instead of just complaining.

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