Professor returns after suspension
Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 00:04
Political science professor Kate Greene has been absent from her classes for two weeks now but will begin teaching again today. Greene stopped teaching after an altercation with a student due to the university's investigation of the incident.
University Provost Bob Lyman and President Martha Saunders declined to comment on the situation, saying the matter is a personnel issue. Greene and the student involved also declined to comment.
According to the USM website, complaints filed with the university should remain confidential. The website stated that all parties involved are to remain confidential during and after an investigation. Additionally, University Counsel Jon Mark Weathers could not be reached for comment.
One of Greene's former students from 1995, Marcia Gaines, said Greene has discussed the situation with her, and, according to Gaines, Greene was suspended with pay immediately after the altercation and there was no due process involved.
Gaines also said that Greene was not initially contacted by University Provost after the incident. Gaines also said that Greene will be returning to teach classes on Tuesday but is not sure what decision the university has made regarding Greene's status.
According to students in the Supreme Court and Civil Liberties class, the situation began with Green's comment to the student on the issue of right to privacy. The situation became heated, and Green asked the student to leave the class. The student refused.
Senior political science major Emily Hoxie questioned the university's handling of the altercation.
"My biggest problem lies with the university's reaction, not with the student. We need to remember that it's the way the university responded that got Green suspended, not the student," Hoxie said.
Junior political science major Corey Stapp, however, said he was disappointed in the way Green conducted her classroom the day of the altercation. Stapp said there would have been no situation to handle had Green not specifically provoked the student.
"What she did was unprofessional," he said.
Junior Joey Tramuta offered a different perspective. A student in the class, Tramuta said that it's easy for tensions to run high in Green's class because they discuss issues that people are passionate about.
"Discussions become heated, and it's easy for tempers to flare," Tramuta said. "Kate Green's teaching style is a little different from some professors because she encourages discussion and challenges students to really evaluate their beliefs."
Hoxie, however, said it's not about Green's teaching style.
"I find it phenomenally frustrating that a tenured professor that I've learned so much from can be suspended after one incident," Hoxie said. "As someone who has taken four of her classes, there have never been outbursts in this manner in any of her other classes. It has more to do with tensions between two people than Green's teaching methodologies."
Brion Monroe, a junior public relations major, is also in the class. While he said he was not prepared for Green's reaction, Monroe was upset with the lack or respect evaded in the classroom that day.
"Although the situation was beyond Green's control, I think Green's intentions were good, but like anyone, her sense of judgment may have lapsed when she was disrespected," Monroe said.
While Monroe thinks the university handled the situation the only way it could have, he is upset that Green is not teaching the class he signed up for.
"It's unfair that actions between Green and one student caused a negative reaction on all of Green's students," Monroe said.
Stapp said he thinks that Green's absence from her classroom is just and fair.
"This is not an issue about tenure; this is an issue about right and wrong. Is this the right type of behavior teachers should exhibit in the classroom? Or is it unacceptable," Stapp said.
Senior political science major and student in the class Theresa Cardenas, on the other hand, said Green's absence from USM is harsh and unfair. "The issue needs more extensive investigation," Cardenas said.
Cardenas said she will be typing an affidavit to submit to University Provost on Tuesday that defends Green's position as a professor on campus.
Junior political science major Tyrone Adams said Green overstepped her boundary as a professor. Adams said Green responded personally instead of professionally.
"This was a personal fight put in front of a classroom, and feelings on both sides start to flare," Adams said.