Student ‘smacked’ in class
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 00:09
During a class activity in a telecommunications production course, an instructor allegedly asked a student to demonstrate why space around headshots is important — by asking him to slap another student’s head.
Evan Purchell, a senior majoring in mass communications was asked to slap the student in front of him, said the activity was intended to be in jest. But the student who was slapped, Daniel Masip, a senior majoring in mass communications, said he did not see anything funny about the situation.
“What the hell are you thinking,” he told The Oracle he yelled out loud at the time to Kristin Arnold Ruyle, the instructor, who did not respond to The Oracle’s requests for comment.
Ruyle, he said, offered him the option of punching Purchell back, something Purchell said they joked about after. Masip didn’t take up the offer because he describes himself as a “civil adult” who doesn’t “conduct
(himself) with such savagery.”
Instead, after class, Masip emailed the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Eric Eisenberg, citing violations of the USF student handbook — 4.09, Disruptive Conduct and 4.12, Injurious Behavior.
In the email, he said, “Instructor Kristin Arnold Ruyle believed it was comically amusing to have a fellow student smack me in the back of my head. The ‘willing’ accomplice, Mr. Evan Purchell, forcefully slapped the crown of my head as a video production ‘exercise’ for the onlooking class.”
He said “overall handled (himself) pleasantly despite reacting with a justifiable annoyance.”
But Purchell said he thought the complaints against Ruyle were “silly.”
“It’s a fun class,” he said. “She wasn’t actually promoting violence against anyone. We were joking about it. It was a four-hour class and this happened half an hour after it (started). If it bothered him, you would think he would have said something before three and a half hours.”
Masip said his decision to not speak up at the time was intentional.
“I held my composure and didn’t make a complaint,” he said. “I’m in class to learn, not be dramatic. I’m the bigger man. I’m not going to stoop to that level.”
Purchell said he didn’t hit Masip with much force, but Masip said the slap hurt, and the fact that his instructor condoned it hurt even more.
“I was embarrassed and ashamed,” he said. “I felt I was being picked on. It’s stupid, animalistic and barbaric.”
Purchell said he understood why Masip might have felt singled out, though he didn’t think it was intentional.
“I think he might have thought the teacher was picking on him,” he said. “Later on, we were doing actual production and he was the technical director for that run-through. He wasn’t sure what he was doing, and she yelled at him for it. But she does that to everyone, because that’s how it is in the real world. She wasn’t singling him out or being mean to him. She yelled at me harder when I did the same thing last week.”
Allison Cleveland-Roberts, assistant dean for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, called a meeting with both Ruyle and Masip on Wednesday afternoon.
“The College of Arts and Sciences certainly wouldn’t want any negative situation,” she said to The Oracle. “We want to hear from all sides.”
Before attending the meeting, Masip said he filed a police report with University Police (UP) just to make sure he was “protected.”
Masip said he spoke to an officer who told him what the professor did consisted of battery.
UP spokesman Lt. Chris Daniel did not know of Masip’s visit or the details of the scenario, but said he was unsure if the professor’s actions would be considered battery.
“Definitely if that occurred, it would be a battery between the two students,” he said. “I don’t know that the professor could be criminally tied to it. I haven’t heard the specifics of the case. The hitting would be the battery.”
Masip said he did not plan to pursue charges against Ruyle.
During the joint meeting with Cleveland-Roberts, Masip said Ruyle apologized to him.
“Your apology is questionable,” he said he told her.
He did not accept her apology, he said, because he believed it was insincere. Instead, he withdrew from the course and said the Dean’s office promised he would be fully reimbursed.