Professors torn about ‘laying down the law’

When you get in trouble in elementary school, you are sent to the “time-out” chair.

In middle and high school, the “time-out” chair is one of many, in a “time-out” room called detention.

So, it seems only natural that in college there would be a “time-out” building, a place to send all disruptive students

Sadly there is no such place.

Professors are left to their own devices.

Left to come up with their own methods of controlling students.

Students are at odds on just how far a professor should be able to go in disciplining other students in front of the entire class.

Gib Brown, 20, a criminal justice student from Miami said students should be punished in front of the class.

“Professors shouldn’t have to do that, but students often bring it on themselves,” Brown said.

Derrick Thomas, a computer science student from Landover, Md., said that the punishment should fit the crime.

“If (the teacher scolds the student) for cheating, it’s all good because everyone (in the class) wants to see that, that’s entertainment,” Thomas said.

“But if (the professor) is just trying to put that student on blast, then they should save that for after class.”

Professor Roscoe McNealy, associate department chair and professor in the math department, agreed.

He said that putting students on the spot was not the best way to admonish them for bad behavior.

McNealy said that there have been instances where students made disrespectful comments that might have been appropriate at a poker game, but definitely not at school.

“I have talked to students about respecting themselves, women and others. I tell them that their comments aren’t appropriate,” he said. “I tell them that they are a reflection of their parents and that they wouldn’t want to embarrass them.”

McNealy said that his method usually works.

“The students usually apologize and say they will not do it again,” he said.

He added that sometimes even that is not always enough.

“I tell them that their comments are inappropriate, but I don’t say ‘Don’t do it.’ Their parents have to tell them that,” he said.

Aferdita Ishmaku, a physics professor who has been teaching at FAMU for just one semester said that she welcomes conversations in class, as long as they are constructive.

“The thing that makes me really happy is participation, when (the students) get excited that makes me really happy.”

Ishmaku, teaches 97 students in one class and 90 in another.

Ishmaku said that she does not try to change certain behavior. like the students who are consistently late to class.

“I don’t think a teacher can force someone at that age,” she said.

“I talk to them one-on-one and tell them that they need to do better.”

But, Ezenwanyi Ahaghotu, a 25-year-old graduate research assistant who often teaches classes of students not very far from her own age.

Ahaghotu said that sometimes a little gentle force is necessary to take control of the situation.

“Sometimes students try to test me because I’m around their age, and I have to let them know that I am just as serious as their other professors.”

The Washington, DC native said she sometimes has to show a little muscle, but “only when necessary.”

Contact Raina Mcleod at