October 27, 2014

News | November 13, 2013
Students disrupt class of professor accused of death threat
Group protests appeal, “silencing [of] students” at university
Written by | Visual by Robert Smith | The McGill Daily

Ten students interrupted Professor Gary Dunphy’s lecture today, with chants of “hey hey, ho, ho, racist profs have got to go.” Dunphy left the class quickly and drove away, ignoring the protesters for the most part.

In April, Global News reported that Amr El-Orabi, a graduate student in the Natural Resources department, returned to his home in Egypt after alleged harassment from Dunphy, his graduate supervisor.

On a recording made earlier this year, and shared with Global News by El-Orabi, Dunphy allegedly uttered death threats directed toward his student.

On the recording, El-Orabi can be heard asking, “Is there anything else that you want from me now?” as he leaves the professor’s office.

“Yes, your death,” Dunphy replied.

In September, the Senate Committee on Student Grievances came to the decision that Dunphy’s behaviour constituted “harassment” and a “threat of physical violence” toward El-Orabi. However, the Committee did not find that Dunphy had violated El-Orabi’s rights under section 2.1 of the Charter of Students’ Rights, which states that students have the right to “not be impaired by discrimination.”

However, as reported earlier by The Daily, Dunphy is now appealing the decision.

In Dunphy’s BIOL 350: Insect and Biology Control class today, the protesters chanted and held signs, some of which read, “Stop silencing students” and “Racism at McGill has to stop.”

The protesters also read out a statement to the class of around 25 students. Students sat in silence, with some packing up and leaving as Dunphy did.

One student in Dunphy’s class angrily said to the protesters, “You guys are monopolizing our class time,” adding that they had “paid for this [class].”

When one of the protesters asked, “You don’t care that someone issued a death threat to their graduate student?” the student replied “I am not concerned with this. [...] You can protest when I’m not in class.”

One of the protesters asked whether the student was “okay” with having a “racist prof.” The student responded, “I don’t care,” and said that they just wanted to learn about entomology.

The small group of protesters followed Dunphy down to an administrative office, where he could be heard telling an unidentified staff member that he was “being harassed again.” This staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Daily that they were angry with the treatment of Dunphy.

“[The protests are] absolutely inappropriate, because the others are there to learn,” the staff member said. “He’s a good teacher, he’s extremely popular. [...] There is definitely another side to the story, and I think whoever it is that initially accused him jumped to all sorts of conclusions he had no right to jump to.”

When asked by The Daily how he felt about the protests in his classroom, as a protester chanted “Islamophobic prof,” Dunphy replied, “These protests are disruptive. People are paying [for the class].”

When asked what Dunphy thought about the earlier decision by the Committee, which classified his behaviour as harassment toward El-Orabi, Dunphy replied that it was “definitely” wrong “because the law has already said that.” He did not comment further on his appeal.

Dunphy did not reply to questions about the allegations of racism or homophobia put against him by El-Orabi.

The flyer distributed to students in the class and read aloud connected the El-Orabi and Dunphy case to a broader system which, the flyer stated, “acts as a means of legitimization and works to control and suppress dissent on campus.”

The flyer cited different incidents at McGill, such as the student and course lecturer in the School of Social Work who filed a human rights complaint, citing systemic racism in the School. It also referred to the current public attention focused on a sexual assault case involved three former McGill athletes.

The flyer also called for “students to take action outside of and beyond the means of recourse controlled by the administration.” One of the protesters, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Daily that it was likely that the group would disrupt another one of Dunphy’s classes.

 

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