Friday, February 18, 2005

Professor Threatens Student with Psychotherapy

A 17-year-old Kuwaiti Muslim attending Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, ran afoul of his professor in Introduction to American Government and Politics when, contrary to the professor’s instructions, he wrote an essay defending the U.S. Constitution. The professor refused to grade the paper, but summoned him to the office.

The student, Ahmad Al-Qloushi, writes: “He told me, ‘Your views are irrational.’ He called me naïve for believing in the greatness of this country, and told me 'America is not God's gift to the world.’ [Emphasis in original.] Then he upped the stakes and said ‘You need regular psychotherapy.’ Apparently, if you are an Arab Muslim who loves America you must be deranged. Professor Woolcock went as far as to threaten me by stating that he would visit the Dean of International Admissions (who has the power to take away student visas) to make sure I received regular psychological treatment.” (Emphasis added.)

The full article is at here.


At 12:36 PM, Blogger Lee Killough said...

The student's paper is weak (I read it). If I were grading, I'd give it a B for effort, D for presentation / argument.

But none of this has anything to do with psychiatry/psychotherapy. Until we have non-hearsay evidence that the school recommended psychotherapy or drugs for the student, such as a letter written by the school, or witnesses who saw the student pulled into the office, or proof that the student was expelled, then this is a non-story.

Keep in mind that the article was from neoconservative Front Page Magazine, which is known for stretching the truth on these kinds of issues since 9/11 -- they are the same ones who wouldn't mind Ward Churchill being fired, or worse, arrested for treason.

The professor's comments may be being taken out of context, and blown into a massive Churchill-style scandal for the benefit of FPM's pro-war readers.

To me, all these "free speech on campus" episodes underscore the need to separate school and state, even at the university level, so that the disputes do not become a matter of public policy.

Do we want every little classroom dispute between student and instructor/professor to be blown into a federal case?

The neoconservative anti-PC movement does not strike me as a true defender of freedom -- not in the way that classical liberals or libertarians are.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Sheldon Richman said...

I agree with much of Lee's comment. But it is no stretch to believe that the professor said something about the student's mental health. Let's recall all those psychiatrists who publicly said Barry Goldwater was psychotic.


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