By Felicia Roehm
Although a freshman filed a written discrimination complaint against a professor last fall, without explanation Rider University’s Title IX office refused her request to launch a formal investigation.
Flossie Bryant, a communications major, said she left her October math class feeling humiliated and confused.
As a Black woman, Bryant said she felt Professor Victor Moya singled her out. She said he publicly berated her for her performance on an exam – but, according to Bryant, treated no white or male students this way.
Bryant ultimately dropped the class, but was disappointed that Rider did not pursue a formal investigation – a decision the university did not acknowledge to Bryant until she reached out months later to inquire.
In a Feb. 8 email to Bryant, reviewed by The Rider News, Thomas Johnson, who was then Rider’s Title IX compliance officer, wrote, “actions that were taken to address the professor’s comments to you … included meeting with the professor about the incident and observing the professor for the remainder of the semester. No formal investigation process had been initiated.” Johnson’s email did not explain why Rider did not launch a formal investigation, despite Bryant’s request for one.
Moya, who is teaching upper level management science courses this semester, declined to comment to The Rider News.
Johnson also declined to comment to The Rider News, citing confidentiality. He has since left the university.
Eugene Kutcher, dean for the Norm Brodsky School of Business, also declined to comment on the matter and said he could not allow The Rider News to review Moya’s teaching evaluations.
According to Bryant, Moya repeatedly questioned her and her midterm performance in front of the entire class on Oct. 22, to the point where she was in tears. Bryant submitted written accounts to Rider officials on the date of the incident and again on Nov. 7.
“I feel as though he berated me because I was a Black woman,” Bryant said in an interview this semester with The Rider News.
Bryant said the conversation with the professor lasted five minutes and described the interaction as “uncomfortable” and “unnerving.”
“I was embarrassed because I didn’t know what to do, and it was in front of the entire class. He was talking about my grade in front of the entire class, and there was no need to be talking about this because this is no one’s business but mine,” Bryant said.
When Bryant began to cry, she said Moya asked in what she called a “ridiculing tone” if she wanted to make him cry because of her midterm grade.
Bryant described the class as silent during the interaction. She alleged Moya said “I’m a grown man but will cry like a little girl.” Her description of the incident to The Rider News this semester matches the content of an email she sent a Rider administrator within hours of the Oct. 22 class.
Bryant claimed that after Moya said she needed to study more, he said “Are you trying to punish me? I don’t try to punish you, so why are you trying to punish me,” but then said many times how he was disappointed because he knew she could do better.
On Nov. 6, during Parents Weekend, Bryant and her family went to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and met with its Executive Director Pamela Pruitt. According to Bryant, Pruitt recommended she contact Rider’s Title IX office.
Pruitt also suggested Bryant fill out a complaint on Rider’s “Report and Support” website, which includes every form for any situation including sexual violence, discrimination, harrassment, hazing, crime or a concern about a student.
Bryant filled out the form the next day and said she met with Johnson, who was then Rider’s Title IX compliance officer, on Nov. 12 to discuss the interaction with Moya.
Bryant said Johnson told her that Moya was being monitored. He asked Bryant if she would like to continue with an investigation, and Bryant said she agreed.
However, Bryant said she heard nothing more about the matter from either Johnson or the university, until she reached out again on Feb. 8.
Johnson replied later that day to her email query, informing her – without explanation – that no formal investigation had been launched.
Bryant said in frustration, “I feel that there should be a repercussion for that because I don’t know in what world it is OK for someone to talk to another person like that regardless of authority status. Obviously he is a professor, and I was a student, but regardless, I am still a human, and so is he.”
“There was no reason for him to be talking down to me like that, especially in front of the entire class,” she said.
Another student who also had a class taught by Moya last fall, who asked to remain anonymous because she is a business major, does not think that he treated students differently depending on their race or gender.
She said, “He will pass you, but it’s a weird experience if you take his class. The only reason I recommend his class is because he will pass you, so it’s an easy grade to get the credit over. If they keep their head down in the class and do all that they can, … at the end he will look out for them.”
Another student who had Moya, who asked to remain anonymous because he is a finance major, explained a situation where Moya was helping students during a quiz.
Moya was helping white students, and when this student, who is Indian American, said he approached Moya for help, the professor just took his paper without glancing at it.
He said, “I remember when I was going to hand in a quiz, and he was sort of guiding some students if he felt like they were going on the wrong path with the equation or something, but when I took my paper up, he just took the paper and submitted it without even looking at it or telling me if I [had] any incorrect answers or if my answers were correct at all.”
However, Moya’s overall rating on the anonymous Rate My Professor website is very good. Moya received 66 top, five-star ratings, and 96% of those students said they would take his class again.
Bryant said she is disappointed both with Moya, but also how Rider handled her complaint.
The day of the incident, she wrote to a Rider administrator: “This entire interaction has left me feeling extremely deflated, drained, angry, confused and disappointed that the college I have chosen to attend has professors who chose to tear me down rather than uplift and inspire me and to teach to the excellence that it promotes.”
Months later, Bryant said, “I would have liked to receive some acknowledgment or an apology from the professor which I did state in my meeting, but it would have been nice for him to at least acknowledge what he did was inappropriate.”
Bryant said, “I don’t know how Rider is gonna say they have great professors who care about their students when one of your professors acts like that.”