A reminder for the first day of classes

Treat your students with respect, or you’ll get what you deserve.

The alleged incident, during a University of Guelph anthropology class, was posted on Facebook, in an unofficial university group called Overheard at Guelph, shortly after it happened.

Students said a professor, Edward Hedican, who was filling in for their usual professor, made disrespectful comments to the student, who has “severe anxiety,” while an aid worker was at his side.

He made repeated dismissive comments, suggesting that an acutely nervous student didn’t belong in class.

And then…boom, a student stood up and spoke out for the young man with anxiety, and the whole class walked out. There’s video of the woman who spoke against the professor’s attitude.

Wow. That is exactly the kind of integrity and outspokenness I want for all of my students. I just have to try to avoid deserving the criticisms Hedican got — which actually isn’t too hard. It’s bad news when a fellow professor can’t even clear that low bar.

Also, by the way, that class was huge. With that many students, you have to be able to accept and teach to diverse people. I’ve got it easy, my biggest class this semester has 23 students, and even at that I can see many different sorts of people — you’ve got a few hundred students in your class, and you expect total uniformity and a complete lack of distractions? Get real.


  1. says

    Is it bad that I want to hear how the professor tried to excuse himself? Not because I have any sympathy for him or because I expect to have any sympathy for him, but because I just want to hear what kind of voice comes out of the mouth of someone so gross, entitled, patronising, holier-than-thou, and ableist.

    That woman who stood up for her student is amazing, and I feel bad for the student that disgusting excuse for a substitute teacher attacked…

  2. indianajones says

    I also would be interested in how the prof responds. Frank and open apology with concrete measures undertaken by him to see it doesn’t happen again?

    Ridiculously optimistic of me I hope not.

  3. beyondhope says

    I’m sure my courage would have failed in a similar circumstance. Standing up to a bully in such a situation has always been fraught with risk for the one brave enough to do the right thing, and a student with such integrity – I truly and sincerely respect her. To Prof Hedican – for shame.

  4. chris says

    That professor’s behavior is why those of us with autistic loved ones fear for them. Anxiety is a big thing, along with the other things like stimming and differences in speech. My adult son is intelligent, but he needs simple accommodations like waiting for him to finish a sentence. He was nonverbal as a three year old, but with lots of work he speaks slower, with a different cadence and sometimes difficulty finding a word (mussing with his hair helps with that).

    Inclusion includes acceptance. I am glad that those students got that message. That professor needs a bit more training.

    (by the way, it can be summed up to ignorance, dear hubby did not understand until the psychologist explained it too him after she evaluated our son)

  5. garnetstar says

    I also want to say how much I respect the student.

    I must say, I’ve had 625 students every semester for some years now, and I have, indeed, seen it all, or at least a whole lot. It has never once occurred to me to shout out at anyone in front of the class (though I do remember asking some students not to talk during the lecture, and for students to put down their phones.) Just didn’t cross my mind.

    It actually isn’t that difficult to contain one’s amazement at everyone’s not being exactly the same. Especially since people usually stop feeling any such amazement after, oh, about age 25.

  6. garnetstar says

    And, chris @4, I’ve had many students who need simple, and even more complex, accommodations like your son, and we all get along fine, and those students do fine, and the rest of the class is very accepting of them and respects their needs without treating them as if they are “different”.

    Just so that you know, there are many people who respect that not everyone’s need are exactly the same, and that we all have the right to have our needs accommodated.

  7. says

    Not every day you see yourself inna news. Yes, I was the ‘boy’ (pretransition femme enbie, but that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of the story), and jesus that fuck was a douche, and inspired the mutiny that it warranted – he also spent more time wanking about his own book (which I wouldn’t have been bothered by, as we need some cancon anthro stuff), and spent three minutes with a flaming country music video before I arrived. My aide was beside herself with rage and crying herself, and my Student Assistive Services councillor was beside herself with rage, and my RA was livid. Got randos sympathizing with me for having to put up with that skeetstain for the time I was on campus today (was out at the library for much of it). My TAs were in literal tears over that gongshow, they were so angry and hurt about it.

    He also had a confidential student email on screen from SAS (not about moi) before we started – as in, on the damn projector, the numpty. From other students, including my LGBT group, the fucko’s been being a douche for years, and folks have dropped courses on account of this. He may well be at the last straw now.

  8. A. Noyd says

    Captain Jeep-Eep (#7)

    Yes, I was the ‘boy’ (pretransition femme enbie, but that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of the story)

    If you tell us your pronouns, the folks here will respect them. Also, you can use actual swear words if you like; only certain slurs will get your post caught in the filter.

    As for the rest, I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’m glad you had so much support, and I hope you’ll be the last of that particular asshole’s victims.

  9. nathanieltagg says

    Welcome, Cap’n.

    This sounds like Guelph. I was there for my Ph.D., and the school has a history of having some great students and some lousy professors. (What was the name of the douchebag philosopher who was there for a while? PZ picked bones with him, I recall.)

    Glad you had people standing up for you. Guelph has a heritage of both meshback-cap sports idiots as well as thoughtful people in Women’s Studies, LGBT and related programs, and that was back in the 90s.

  10. says

    Don’t worry, I know the rules. I’ve posted here before, years ago. She/they, for me. Don’t worry about me, I’m onna way to extracting my pound of flesh for this asshattery.

  11. damien75 says

    That is not the way I imagined anthropology professors. It is very confusing.

    To Captain Jeep-Eep, I hope that episode will trigger a wave of niceness towards you that will compensate for it.

    Sorry about my lame English, I can feel I am not phrasing things right but cannot find the proper ways at the present moment.

  12. garnetstar says

    Hi Captain Jeep-Eep, so sorry you had to go through that.

    If you ever want to take a chemistry class with a cast of thousands, and be treated like a human, please come to mine!

  13. numerobis says

    It’s really hard to get fired as a tenured prof. *Really* hard.

    Nevertheless, this asshat may succeed.

  14. DanDare says

    I run an open table D&D club. We have about 30 regular players. 3 DM regulars and 4 in training.
    Of that group two have severe dislexia and aspergers and one has autism. Unlike a uni we have no real obligation to accept people but we have anyway. I have worked closely with the asperger guys to help smooth interactions and get players supportiing one another. We have a number of helpful signals designed in consultation with the guys to tell them clearly when they are overstepping the bounds yelling bullying or overbearing etc. Its a bit tiring but we get there.
    We recently had to suspend the guy with autism. He was lying and building a web of deceit and we just didn’t know how to handle it. I’m working with his parents to try and design a way forward.
    This is all just from a community group rather than a professional setting. You would think a tenured professor had a higher bar. Sigh.