MATC has conducted investigation into racial slur claim

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- MATC has conducted an investigation into a claim that a racial slur was put next to a student's name on an online grading system.

Recently, an MATC student said she opened up her Blackboard program and found the "N" word next to her name. The African-American student believes someone in a position of power changed her username to include the "N" word.

Erica Hughes says she still cannot believe what she saw when she logged into her MATC account to check a quiz grade.

"It's not up there anymore, but I do have copies. I've never experienced anything like that. There's a first time for everything," Hughes said.

Hughes initially questioned whether the teacher who posted the grade had something to do with the racial slur. Meanwhile, the school is defending the student's instructor.

"It's absolutely offensive language -- an allegation we take very seriously and has no place at MATC," MATC spokeswoman Kathleen Hohl said.

After this was brought to the school's attention, MATC said it did an investigation and found the slur was entered using the MATC guest wireless network at the school's West Allis campus on January 31st. At the same time, the instructor in question was logged in and actively using the computer system from the Mequon campus.

Hughes says she was not shown the actual computer records to back up the school's claims of what happened. FOX6 News has also requested those records.

Hohl says only someone with the correct username and password can access an account.

"Students create their own passwords at MATC and nobody else has access to them," Hohl said.

Hughes insists she's always careful on campus computers.

"I don't leave it open there's no way a student did this. I'm not sitting well with that," Hughes said.

Hughes says if the school does indeed have information about when someone changed her username to include the "N" word, she'd like them to find out who did it.

"We looked at did the instructor do this? That was the allegation, so instead of looking at many scenarios we were able to address if the instructor did this. We can conclusively say the instructor did not do this," Hohl said.

Hughes says if evidence shows it could not have been her instructor, she believes someone involved with the school owes her answers -- not just the defense of an instructor.

The school has said if Hughes wants a broader investigation, that's something she can talk with them about.

The full statement released by MATC on Monday, February 18th reads:

"MATC student Erica Hughes alleged that a racial slur was entered into a field in her Blackboard account by an instructor of one of her classes. Blackboard is MATC’s online learning system. MATC conducted a comprehensive and thorough investigation into the allegation and has determined that the instructor against whom the allegation was made did not enter the racial slur in Ms. Hughes’ Blackboard profile. 

It has been determined that the racial slur was entered into the user profile field in Ms. Hughes’ account on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, at 2:37 p.m. The edit was made using the MATC Guest wireless network at the MATC West Allis Campus. The user profile field can only be manually edited by someone who has access to the student’s user name and password. No one at the college has access to student passwords. Students are the only individuals who have access to their passwords unless shared with others. Instructors do not have access to the user profile field in a student’s account where the racial slur was inserted and they do not see this field when they access student work. 

Records indicate the instructor in question was at the MATC Mequon Campus and was logged in to the MATC network from a wired computer from 9:57 a.m. until 3:23 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. Additionally, the instructor accessed Blackboard at 2:22 p.m. and at 3:03 p.m. from a wired computer at the MATC Mequon Campus. 

The investigation included staff members from MATC’s Human Resources, Information Technology, Public Safety and West Allis Campus and Blackboard personnel."