For those of you wondering what was actually said in the letter I sent to the school here it is.
To Whom It May Concern,
Today, Tuesday January 7th, I attended my first class with Mikhail A. Molchanov. I was skeptical upon entering the class as I have heard some rumors that he isn’t the easiest professor. I ignored this as I look for a challenge in my learning and I plan on doing a double major in English and Political Science. As this is a Political Science course it is important for me to get as many credits as I can as soon as possible. I’m a first year student, but I’m almost 20 years old and I have never seen such a display of disrespect that I was privy to in today’s class.
For the benefit of this letter I would first like to state that I have overcome not one, but two, mental illnesses. The first is depression, and the second is an anxiety disorder. While I understand that it is my discretion to announce this, I believe that talking openly about it is the best way to promote the mental health awareness that I believed STU advocates. The display by the professor was unspeakable – and may I add that it happened within the first five minutes.
A student in the class, who may or may not have a mental illness or disability (I do not have this knowledge, nor would I say if I do), made a small joke, which could barely be heard, to the professor. The professor had said something funny, and the student proceeded to say that he could do stand-up comedy. The comment was said in a light and airy manner, and I sensed absolutely no malice. The student, whose name I do not know, was not interrupting a class, as we had barely had even done attendance by this point. I understand that this professor would like a learning environment which dictates itself with respect – however his response, which I’ll get to in a second, was nowhere near the degree of respect I’d expect from a professor, or anyone, for that matter.
Dr. Molchanov proceeded to ask the student, who had trouble speaking loudly and being heard, if he has a disability. He asked this question in a condescending and rude manner in front of the class. As I’ve been with accessibility for my conditions I realize that this is not the view that the school holds on the issue. He also asked the student if he needa to go see a doctor in a berating manner. I believe that, as a whole, STU believes in the anonymous nature of mental disabilities and illnesses, however this was not shown in the behavior of one of your professors today. After the student was kicked out of the class, he pleaded to stay, but was turned down and told to never return. He also said that any students who had a problem with this could feel free to leave or take it up with the Dean or other staff. I’d rather not have to “tell on” a professor, but I feel that what happened is unspeakable.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the behavior. After class continued for a few moments a girl, who seemed to be in tears, raised her hand. The girl explained to the professor that she believes the boy does have an illness or disability. Dr. Molchanov showed no interest in the condition of the boy except a rant, which lead to at least six people immediately leaving the classroom. I was not one of those students, as a matter of respect. This is a kindness that Dr. Molchanov did not show us. In response to the girl, we were told that, “having a disability is not an excuse for ‘rude’ behavior and that if you’re unable to function properly in society you should be in an institution.”
As a person who struggled with mental health throughout my entire high school career, these statements appalled me. Personally, I am at a place in my life where I can process this information and instead of becoming very upset I can keep myself calm. However, my anxiety has been flared up ever since these comments were made, and I continue to have a tension headache. It’s currently 10pm and I’ve felt this way since the class, which was at 1pm. I felt attacked by these remarks, as I’ll have to pass in a sheet to show that I have special requirements if I continue to take the course. I believe it’s unfair that I should feel pressure to leave a course that I may very much need later because of the unprofessional behavior of a man who is supposed to be here in value of higher learning. The last I heard it’s a right to all citizens, regardless of any ‘bias’ to have an education. I purchased a $92.00 (plus tax) book for this course, which I will have to return if I don’t stay. There’s also the issue of finding another course, if there are any available at all because a professor is unable to abide by the rules of common courtesy. I personally advocate that we should all be allowed to have our own opinions. I’m sure that Dr. Molchanov is a respectable man in his own right, and while I believe he has a right to his opinion, I do not believe he had a right to use it in a position of authority, or an educational environment.
I sincerely regret that I have been put in a position where I feel that a letter of this extent is necessary. However, as a student I am paying a lot to get an education and while I’d accept a professor being a hard marker, or giving far too many readings, I will not accept or tolerate the outright bullying of any student, whether they be special needs, or otherwise. I hope you understand my position on this matter.
Thank you for your time,