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Looks like there’s a happy resolution to atheist Jennifer‘s situation in which she felt she was duped into speaking on a religion panel with no preparation, while the religious people on the panel seemed well-prepared and polished.
I’m a little confused. Her writeup says she attributes all of this to a mixup in communication between the professor and the TA, and between the TA and the panelists. But still, nowhere does she mention just what sorts of instructions were given to the other panelists, regardless of who gave them.
So we still don’t have a clear idea of whether she was (inadvertently) duped into showing up unprepared for what the others were told was a showdown, or if the other panelists just assumed it would be a showdown (because they weren’t told otherwise) and prepared accordingly.
With some experience as a TA under my belt, I can say that I tended to be asked to handle situations I was woefully underprepared for more often than not, so I can easily understand how something like this might arise. Of course, this varies from department to department, even within my own university.
Some more information about this would be nice, as David says, but I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s more important we work to try to avoid these types of situations in the future than go over this one with a fine-toothed comb to be positive there wasn’t any discrimination involved.
I think the prof should apologize in front of the class and explain that the students were not given any prior instructions but the others were, and that she thinks the students did an excellent job of shooting from the hip.