Jocelyn Mitchell not teaching; students “infuriated,” demand answers.

Update (March 10, 8:17 p.m.):

NU-Q professor Zachary Valentine Wright said it’s unfortunate to lose another faculty member but believes it was done with the best intentions in mind. He sent the following statement to The Daily Q by email:

 “Losing a professor (or a student for that matter) in the middle of the semester is certainly disconcerting for everyone involved in the learning process. Unfortunately, I understand that such developments are common at all universities due to a variety of factors, such as family emergencies and unexpected career developments. I have no knowledge of this particular case, aside from what was reported in The Daily Q. However, I know Dean Marwan’s primary concern is for the wellbeing of the student body as a whole, while following the highest ethical and academic standards becoming of a world-ranked institution such as Northwestern.”

However, an NU-Q senior, Saad Ejaz, said consequences are part of the process of reform and getting better. “That’s why I think…because there are so many hurt feelings here that there is a need for consequences. I support this decision because it will help students see that this administration cares about them and it will also give Mitchell the time to reflect on what has happened and become a better person moving forward.”

March 10, 10 a.m.:

At 8:25 p.m. last night, students from the class sent an email to the NU-Q Dean, Marwan Kraidy, expressing their concerns. The email was sent by Hakem Al Meqdad and 10 out of 22 students from the class were added to the email. It read as follows:

“Dear Dean Marwan,

“I am writing you this email on the behalf of half of the students in the class who are being CC’ed to express how frustrated and furious we feel about the sudden change in our political class 242 with professor Mitchell. We feel that this is a highly unfair change for everyone in the class. Personally speaking, the reason I took this class because I wanted to study with professor Jocelyn and learn from her expertise. This class has been one of the most productive classes I have enrolled in throughout my experience in NU-Q through the last two years. Professor Sami said he could not provide any details to us in the class.

“Everyone in the class agreed and supported me when I said we should demand to have professor Jocelyn back to finish what is left in this class, the next 5 weeks. Please kindly consider our request because this is what we feel best for us in this class. We are writing you this email because we deeply know that you put us first always as have been demonstrated in the past and want the best for us. I am sure that you will take our concerns seriously, that is the reason why we are emailing you.

“We cannot wait to hear back from you!”

At 12:05 a.m., the Dean responded to questions from the Daily Q sent yesterday:

“Thank you for your email. I understand your interest in the decision on Professor Mitchell’s status; however, because this is a personnel matter, we are not able to address all of your questions. I can tell you that Professor Mitchell was informed that she will not be teaching for the rest of this term.

“Senior Associate Dean and Chief Academic Officer Kathleen Hewett-Smith and Liberal Arts Program Director Sami Hermez are working to cover the class appropriately.

“Our primary concern is for our students, and ensuring that they have the best possible educational experience. If any student needs support or requires academic guidance to complete this term, please contact Indee Thotawattage, Acting Director of Student Affairs. Students may also reach out to our counselors, Patti Collins, and Dina El Abdi, in Counseling, Health and Wellness.

I appreciate your understanding of the sensitivity of this process and the parties involved.”

March 9:

Jocelyn Mitchell is no longer teaching her Comparative Politics class from today, according to an email sent out to the class’ teaching assistants by Sami Hermez, director of the Liberal Arts department at Northwestern University in Qatar. This is the only class Mitchell was teaching this semester.

The email sent to the TAs

A new Zoom link for the class was sent to the students by Hermez without prior explanation.

The canvas message sent to students in the class.

Many students expressed their frustration and apprehension regarding the abrupt decision being taken halfway through the semester. 

“Honestly, it’s very infuriating and quite unprofessional to make such a drastic decision on students without prior notifications…Making such a decision without our consideration is very unfair. We, as the students, are very disappointed and angry at the administration and we want answers,” said Christopher Fwlanga, a first-year student from the class.

Meanwhile, the details of Mitchell’s leave have not been disclosed to her students or to the rest of the NU-Q community yet. The students have been informed by Hermez that another professor will be teaching the other half of the semester. 

“Professor Sami told us that Professor Jocelyn won’t be teaching us anymore and he couldn’t say why because it was above him. He’s not the one who is going to be teaching us, but the department will give us a different professor,” Fwlanga added. 

Other students echoed Fwlanga’s thoughts on the situation and expressed their frustration over the sudden decision, fearing what the consequences may be. “I feel like it is unprofessional for such a decision to be made with only five weeks of university left,” added Alaa Lami, another first-year student at NU-Q who was taking Mitchell’s class. “We’ve covered about half of the syllabus with her, it will certainly be disruptive to learn the other half with someone else.”

Students also fear their learning and grades will be impacted. “I believe most of us, including me, joined the class because of the professor…they should have explained things to us better…I think the decision is going to affect us in multiple ways, our understanding of the topics yet to be covered, and our grades,” said Sadick Alva, another first-year student of the class.

The Daily Q reached out to the NU-Q administration, Hermez and Mitchell and has not yet received a response. 

On Jan. 27, NU-Q announced Professors S. Venus Jin and Jocelyn Mitchell had been awarded a QNRF to study women entrepreneurship in Qatar. The announcement was met with outrage online because Mitchell posted a racially insensitive email about Arab women to a blog in 2008 that she deleted in 2015. 

However, Mitchell will no longer be a part of the research, she wrote in a statement sent out on Feb. 16. Since then, the project was in the process of being withdrawn as a whole by Jin. 

The Daily Q had followed up on the withdrawal with S. Venus Jin, the lead principal investigator, and has not yet received a response.


Managing Editor Nadege Bizimungu, a current TA for this class, was not involved in the editing of this piece.

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