Re: “Students disrupt class of professor accused of death threat” (News, November 13, online)
I am a recent graduate and a former student of Professor Gary Dunphy (BIOL 350: Insect Biology and Control). I am also a hijab/headscarf-wearing Muslim.
I write this because I cannot in good conscience stand by and see the dialogue about discrimination on the McGill campus devolve into uncivil and unproductive shouting matches in classrooms.
In terms of my personal experience, Professor Dunphy was one of the best professors I had in the duration of my studies at McGill. His teaching was of the highest caliber as he made a seemingly dull and esoteric subject interesting and relevant.
I am not an insect person, so I had to frequent his office often with questions about the course and term projects. He was always kind, respectful, and helpful with a sharp but offbeat sense of humour. Once while discussing beetles, we did actually speak about the Middle East (where I was born) and he mentioned the histories and cultures of the region with great interest and respect.
I don’t know what took place in the conflict between the student (Amr El-Orabi) and Professor Dunphy, and I absolutely do not intend to minimize or negate the experiences of the student. I only wish to convey the importance of keeping discussions civil and productive instead of threatening future disruptions.
What I do know is that “Islamophobia” and “racism” are not light terms and not to be used lightly, particularly in classroom shouting matches. If I was in that lecture, as a Muslim woman, I would feel as exasperated that someone would disrupt my class to ‘inform’ me that I was being discriminated against as I do when I am ‘informed’ that I am ‘oppressed’ on the streets of Montreal.
What I also know is, while protests have their place, it’s critical to allow for the on-going investigation and appeals to run their course properly and in an unbiased and unobstructed manner, to ascertain the nature of this conflict. I don’t think disrupting students’ learning and creating a hostile environment helps with that.
B.Sc. Honours Environment ‘13
B.Sc. Honours Anatomy and Cell Biology ‘11