Who Speaks When?

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Alison Downie


When one angry student refused to follow my discussion structure in a class on diverse  Christian views of gender and sexuality, I was unable to keep other students in the room safe from his harmful tirade. After this student refused to apologize in aggressively disrespectful language to me in a private meeting, I petitioned for university sanction. The student responded to my request for a disciplinary hearing by launching a social media campaign to discredit me and my reasons for requesting this hearing. This awful class and the subsequent related events, including administrative response to the social media outrage, have led me to a deeper understanding of what it means to embrace responsibility while at the same time recognizing and accepting that I am not in control. This is one of three essays published together in a special topic section of this journal on critical incidents in the classroom.

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Special Topic
Author Biography

Alison Downie, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Alison Downie is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the only university in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education with a Religious Studies Department. She is also affiliated faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies and Sustainability Studies Programs.