UA-76843172-1

Students have rights in the classroom

Samantha Dutton
Opinion Editor

“You are wasting my time, get out of my class.”
These were the words spoken by my professor. You could almost see the smoke billowing from his ears and nostrils, that’s how angry he was. I looked around the classroom, everyone had the same look of astonishment on their face. “This must be a joke, this professor cant possibly kick the whole class out for not understanding a concept right?”
Well my assumption was wrong, he most certainly did. Anger raged inside of me. How are we supposed to learn if he punishes us by taking valuable class time away from us?
As an education major, we regularly discuss different teaching styles to meet the needs of the students. As a professor, it is their job to help guide us towards understanding. I left nonetheless, along with all of my classmates, and booked it to the office of the department chair with a few of my classmates in tow.
My mind was made up that day that I had had enough. Our class has dealt with accusations about a student in the class being gay, the women of the class being told they lack intelligence, the humiliating chalk board incident that I have written about previously, and now he dismissed us for not knowing information, claiming that we are a waste of his time.
It is important to note that I am by no means a sorry excuse of a student. I knew well in advance that the course was going to be difficult, and I prepared accordingly by getting a tutor long before I even knew I would need one. I am thankful I did that because without my tutor I would not have learned anything from this course.
When I made it to the department head’s office, my emotions that I carefully bottled up finally busted, and I surprised myself by crying. I had neglected to realize how belittled the professor has made me feel over the course of the semester, and it’s progressively getting worse.
I explained to the Department Chair that I no longer volunteer in class, and even go so far as to avoid eye contact with the professor so as to spare myself from his insults.
The classroom has become a hostile environment and I dread going. I was reluctant to go to the department chair because I didn’t want to be taken for a student who got a failing test grade and is unable to cope with it or take responsibility. I made it clear to the Department Chair that I thoroughly believe you get the grades you deserve and that I am not exaggerating or making excuses for poor performance on a test.
This is not a single incident either, this is semester-long harassment by, not a student, but a professor to an entire class. Thats when the professor told me about the Office of Social Equity.
In my four years at Millersville, I have never once heard about the office or that its function is to protect the rights of students. The office of Social Equity protects against sexual harassment, harassment based on gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference, or anything imaginable. The bottom line is that students have rights and it’s important to know them and know that you’re protected.
I waited almost a whole semester to speak up about the harassment that was going on in our classroom, and it could have been addressed in the first few weeks when the professor first began making insinuations that a student was gay.
It sounds silly and redundant, but listen to that voice inside your head if you feel its not appropriate, if it makes you uncomfortable, and if you find yourself questioning if it’s harassment. If you’re a student finding yourself being harassed by a professor or faculty member don’t be intimidated to report them because they are of higher authority. What’s wrong is wrong, no matter what their role is within the university.