Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dental School Blogger: Dean Reduces Punishment

It created a firestorm: the decision of the Marquette Dental School to severely punish a student who had unkind words on his blog concerning an (unnamed) professor and his (unnamed) classmates.

The draconian punishment imposed included a two semester suspension from school, the loss of a scholarship, and a requirement that the student see a counselor for supposed “binge drinking.”

The sentence was appealed to Dental School Dean William Lobb.

A letter announcing the result of the appeal arrived, via snail mail, at the student’s home yesterday. According to Scott Taylor, the student’s lawyer, the key points are:

The suspension has been overturned. Rather, the student will face three semesters of probation.

The action of the Student-Faculty Review Committee stripping him of his scholarship has been reversed.

The student will not be required to seek counseling for (nonexistent) “behavioral issues.”

The student will have to do 100 hours of community service, and make a public apology to his class.

Lobb apparently took the issue to an Advisory Committee in the Dental School.

The action has to be seen as a rebuke to Dental School Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Denis Lynch and to Dr. Anthony Ziebert, who presided at the hearing. Either Lobb is now quite mad at Lynch and Ziebert, or Lobb is himself part of the problem.

It’s also a rebuke to the entire Student-Faculty Review Committee, who signed off on a draconian punishment that they had to know was absurdly harsh. The Committee failed to properly function as a check on administrators who were abusing their power.

The punishment is still too harsh. The most that the Dental School should have done is for some administrator to take the student aside and say “off the record, don’t you think those posts were a bit ill-advised? Don’t you think that maybe you should take them offline?” The least the school could have done was to entirely blow off something that was, in reality, pretty trivial.

However, so far as this student is concerned, the issue now appears closed. He can get on with his life, and a professional career in dentistry.

Questions about the judgment of the Administration in the Dental School remain. In the wake of a media firestorm and virtually unanimous criticism of the School’s actions, Lobb relented. But unfortunately, questions necessarily remain as to how he would have handled a similar case that produced no publicity.

2 Comments:

Blogger M J said...

It's nothing new for Lynch to jump the gun and degrade some student...I had to put up with the same when I attened UTBD in Houston. Fortunately, and due to my efforts, he was forced to resign due to several similar incidents involving dental students. Jane in Seattle, WA.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are two-faced bastards. It's only because of public scrutiny that they back off, otherwise, there's no way in hell they'd do it. Look at their own history of abuse of their staff and students if it's not removed from the record; besides, the place is a filthy, poverty-stricken Dahmer dump.

5:56 PM  

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