News | Students confront teacher accused of death threat

McGill student back in Egypt after being harassed by professor

A former McGill student is back in his home in Egypt after facing months of harassment from his professor, culminating in a death threat, the student says.

According to a story by Global News published on Wednesday, Amr El-Orabi came to Montreal in May 2012 to study Natural Resource Sciences at McGill, but alleges that he soon became the victim of harassment from Professor Gary Dunphy.

“He would make fun of my beliefs, he would make fun of Muslims and how they do their prayers, and he would do that in front of me,” El-Orabi told Global News from his home in Cairo, which he returned to four months ago.

Dunphy also allegedly called El-Orabi a “homosexual.”

When El-Orabi told Dunphy he was leaving his lab, the professor lashed out, yelling “Get the the fuck out of this country.”

As El-Orabi left Dunphy’s office, he asked the professor, “Is there anything else that you want from me now?”

“Yes, your death,” Dunphy replied. El-Orabi shared a recording of the conversation with Global News, which posted it online.

During the recording, Dunphy accuses El-Orabi of hacking into his Skype account and threatens to press criminal charges against the student.

Later on the recording, Dunphy alludes to longstanding tensions between himself and El-Orabi over religion.

“Your biggest and only problem with me is that you put your goddamn god above my asshole god. It’s your philosophy that ‘you must respect me and I don’t have to respect you,’” Dunphy says on the recording.

“I want to respect the Arab world – I can’t when you insist that I have to do things your way,” Dunphy says later.

In an interview with Global News, Morton Mendelson, outgoing Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) said, “The idea of a death threat against a student is disturbing. It’s something that the university would take very seriously.”

On Thursday, following his last lecture of the semester in the Stewart Biology building, Dunphy was asked to expand on allegations that he makes on the recording regarding “cyberstalking” by El-Orabi. Dunphy declined to comment.

A group of students met outside Dunphy’s classroom this afternoon. One of the protestors, wishing to remain anonymous, said Dunphy’s outburst was part of a pattern.

“McGill has a problem with institutional racism,” the protestor said. “People like him shouldn’t be in a room with students teaching in any educational institutional – those people should be fired.”

An hour into the lecture, protestors entered the classroom, in which there were only three students. One protestor held a sign that read “Racism @ McGill Has to Stop! Racist Profs Out!”

“It’s nice to see so many people – why don’t you sign up for my entymology course,” he told assembled media and protestors.

Putting his lecture to an end, Dunphy refused to comment, as his case is still the subject of an official grievance procedure. “My employer has asked me not to until this thing’s through,” he said. “You’re not getting any more than that, my friends.”

A former student depicts Dunphy under a different light as a kind, tolerant teacher.

“I was shocked to hear this story,” said Dana Holtby, who had Dunphy as a biology teacher in second year but has since graduated. Dunphy “reassured me after a difficult midterm and even seemed sympathetic to the allophones in our class. When I expressed concern about an error I made on the [midterm] he assured me that I would be able to make it up on the examinations to come, and that he was sympathetic to mistakes as he knew that for many students in the class English was not the first language.”

Still, Holtby added, “such behavior is completely unacceptable and I would hope for a more concrete reaction from administration.”

The administration would only say that a student filed a grievance to the Committee on Student Grievances, a Senate committee arising out of University regulations,  specifically the Charter of Student’s Rights. The Committee, with its nine voting members – four students and five professors – has final authority within university jurisdiction and is  “empowered to order such final or interim actions as it sees fit” for appropriate redress.

Protestors followed Dunphy to his car in the Stewart Biology parking lot, chanting “Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Racist profs have got to go!”

Speaking to reporters, Dunphy conceded that there was “wrongdoing on everybody’s part.”

After removing the protestor’s sign placed on his windshield, Dunphy told The Daily, “I don’t have any feelings for the [allegations].”

The Natural Resources Science departmental chair, Professor Jim Fyles, refused to comment.

“This is a case that is been taken up by McGill administration trough the normal grievance procedures, and I cannot comment on it” Fyles said in an interview with The Daily.

McGill Director of Internal Communications Doug Sweet said the administration is also unable to comment.

“No comment, because this is the subject of a grievance,” Sweet said.

A previous version of this article stated that multiple death threats were made. In fact, El-Orabi accused Dunphy of making a single  death threat.


Comments posted on The McGill Daily's website must abide by our comments policy.
A change in our comments policy was enacted on January 23, 2017, closing the comments section of non-editorial posts. Find out more about this change here.