Frank Rybick, a college professor at Valdosta State University was arrested charged with battery after he allegedly closed a laptop on the hands of a student in his class. Valdosta State University has also suspended Rybick. However, various students have come forward to support Rybicki.
Rybicki is an assistant professor of mass media at Valdosta State University and reportedly caught a student surfing in his class. The student proceeded to file a criminal complaint that her finger or fingers were hurt by the action. However, the student newspaper, The Spectator,quoted students who said that the student was surfing in violation of the rules and that Rybicki is a great teacher. Some students say the student was warned about her surfing and ignored Rybicki. The student newspaper quotes students as saying that the student argued with Rybicki and that the professor decided to end the class due to the disruption.
Obviously, closing a laptop on a student’s fingers should never be done or condoned. However, the elevation of such an incident to a criminal charge is a disturbing escalation, particularly absent a serious injury. One could easily imagine that a finger was caught by the closing of the computer without any intent to do so by Rybicki. The 22-year-old female student then went to the VSUPD to report an assault. The Spectator reports that students who came to the next class were met by VSUPD who warned students who witnessed the event to refrain from speaking with anyone, including the media.
The college website states that Rybicki holds a Ph.D. from Duquesne University, a M.A. from University of Southern California, and a B.A. from California State University, Los Angeles. His focus is on Media Law, Audio/Video Production, New Technologies.
Professors are increasingly banning laptops from classrooms because of a small number of students who violate the rules and surf in class. I allow computers but I have a strict policy against surfing. Yet, the students who continue to act in this juvenile fashion are threatening the use of computers for all students.
In reading these articles, I fail to see why this was treated as a criminal matter as opposed to an internal matter within the college. Recently, we saw a teacher arrested for rattling a desk in class. Once again, these cases raise concerns over the criminalization of conduct that was once handled informally within a school.