March 26, 2004

Story Causes Student Expulsion and Teacher Dismissal

On the local front, here at the Academy of Arts College, a student was expelled and an instructor was fired. Jan Richman taught a Narrative Storytelling class. An unnamed student wrote a story which contained violent details. The story was passed onto Tom Molanphy, head of the writing division, for notes. The student's parents called, alleging that their son was being "encouraged to write about violence." To put the story into some context, Richman assigned David Foster Walllace's "Girl with Curious Hair" as an example of an unsympathetic character. But this apparently caused some problems with the top brass. Wallace's story wasn't part of the assigned textbook.

From here, the details grow murky. Richman was led up the administrative ladder, and was dismissed at the beginning of the year, after a series of meetings. No reason was offered for the dismissal.

The Chronicle does (as can be expected) a solid job of collecting the details. However, important questions of policy and procedure remain unanswered. Was there a policy in place to determine what teachers were allowed to teach at the Academy of Arts? And how much freedom do instructors have there?

Eileen Everett, chairman of the liberal arts department, told me that she couldn't comment on any policy matters at this time. She directed me to Sallie Huntting, Senior Vice President of Public Relations. I left a message with Huntting.

I also have calls into Richman and Molanphy.

As information comes in, I'll keep you posted.

Posted by DrMabuse at March 26, 2004 10:03 AM

I couldn't really find room for it in my blog, but I enjoyed the quote from the poetry teacher still on the faculty: "The (school's) system is based on corporate greed... It doesn't even give the bare minimum to students in terms of psychiatric counseling or social services. It just treats kids like credit cards, like clients, basically. There is no artistic vision." I bet he must be a blast at department meetings. (Don't get me wrong; it sounds like he's dead on, I just can't figure out what he thinks about the school is a good fit for him besides the paycheck.)

Posted by: Ron at March 26, 2004 10:27 AM

Now, the truly enterprising reporter would hustle on over there and chat up a few of Richman's students. Not that we're tellin' ya what to do or anything ...

Posted by: TEV at March 26, 2004 10:57 AM