Four months ago, I posted about the case of Frank J. Rybicki, a college professor at Valdosta State who was sued, arrested for battery, and suspended from teaching after he took it upon himself to shut the laptop of a student who refused to stop surfing the web during class.
A couple of days ago a Georgia jury found Rybicki not guilty of battery. To the surprise of no one—including, I’m fully confident, the student in question—“nobody was able to offer evidence that he intended to hurt his student’s finger.” In response to the “customer is always right” argument made by some RBC commenters the first time, Rybicki
said he thought the real issue in the case was the right of a professor to maintain the classroom as a learning environment. He said that he realizes that some students disagree, and tell him things like “I paid for this class so I should do what I want.” But Rybicki said that what a student pays for is “for me to teach,” and that means setting some standards in the classroom.
It sounds as if the vast majority of Valdosta State students backed Rybicki, a popular teacher.
This is not, however, a happy ending. Given the acquittal, Rybicki will now be free to teach in 2011-12. But the university told him in June that he wouldn’t be welcome after that. (Rybicki doesn’t have tenure—but unless the reporting is very bad indeed, it sounds as if he’s been fired well before his tenure review.)
As I said the first time, if your opinion on this resembles mine, a certain college president needs to hear it. And now that opinion will enjoy the backing of twelve duly empaneled citizens.