New York Professor Faces Latest Termination Petition Over Allegedly Falling Asleep During Anti-Racism Meeting

KDgxhmwQMzAuTJG-800x450-noPadFor many professors, a story out of New York may seem like an academic sequel to the 1982 horror film “Don’t Go To Sleep.” Students are seeking the termination of Marymount Manhattan Theater Arts Associate Professor Patricia Simon after she appeared to briefly fall asleep during an anti-racist meeting held on Zoom.  Simon denies the allegations but Marymount Manhattan student Caitlin Gagnon started a petition which features this picture and also accuses her of “ignoring … racist and sizeist actions and words of the vocal coaches under her jurisdiction.” The petition has roughly 2000 signatories. It is an ironic twist on the woke movement where literally not being awake is now cause to be terminated.Professor Simon insists that the picture was a false image due to her bifocals and how she changed her angle to rest her eyes:

“I was not asleep as is implied at any point during the meeting,” she said, adding, “the photo used was taken without permission when I was looking down or briefly resting my Zoom weary eyes with my head tilted back which I must do in order to see my computer screen through my trifocal progressive lenses. I listened with my ears and heart the entire meeting.”

It is certainly true to have such false light images.  We previously discussed how President Barack Obama was unfairly accused of inappropriate conduct through such false light publications.  Obama was accused of checking out a female staffer with the use of a single photo. However, the full record showed that Obama was moving his head to speak with another world leader at a photo op and that frame just caught him at a misleading angle as the staffer walked by.

However, even if true, why is a professor dozing off in a meeting now a matter for termination?  Faculty meetings are a well-known cure for insomnia even when you care deeply about the subject.  I have seen colleagues virtually cause self-concussions by sleep-induced head bobbing. Even Vice Presidents and United States senators have been accused of falling asleep in the middle of a meeting in the Oval Office.  A senator appeared to fall asleep during the presidential impeachment.  Indeed, during a judicial impeachment, I was the lead counsel arguing on the Senate floor.  My family came to the floor to watch my closing argument and my youngest, Madie, fell asleep in my wife’s arms.  A Capitol Police officer came over to say that “there is no sleeping on the Senate floor,” even an infant.  My wife looked over at a Senator who had his feet up on a desk, head back with his mouth open, and snoring so loud you could barely hear my closing.  The officer contemplated the scene for a second and responded “YOU can’t sleep on the Senate floor.”

The point is that Professor Simon denies the allegation but, even if true, the first response of these students is to seek yet another termination of a professor.  It is an example of why many academics feel that they are living in an increasingly intolerant and hostile environment.  Some faculty are afraid to speak on contemporary issues or even defend colleagues (or free speech) due to the ubiquitous petitions to fire faculty deemed insufficiently supported of Black Lives Matter or the protests.  Simon is not being accused of racist statements but a failure to be sufficiently active in fighting racism. As is often the case, the petition lacks specific incidents that are now deemed unnecessary in this environment:

“This action has only capitalized on a pattern of negligence and disrespect that Patricia Simon has exhibited over and over again in her time as an Associate Professor, and Coordinator of the BFA Musical Theater Program. Professor Simon has a history of ignoring instances of racism in the form of racial profiling within the program, and enabling the racist and sizeist actions and words of the vocal coaches under her jurisdiction.”

She is accused of being “known to use her power to intimidate and bully the students in her program who have made efforts to advocate for themselves or for their fellow peers.” That is unrelated to the alleged dozing depravity caught on Zoom and virtually impossible to refute even the absence of any specific incident.  Students later added that she is “fatphobic”and rejected her claim that “I listened with my ears and heart the entire meeting.”

I obviously come to this with the bias of a faculty member who is disturbed by what I see has the loss of tolerance and free speech on our campus. We have been discussing these stories of petitions for the terminations of faculty throughout the country.  I can understand why students are upset at the image of what they view as a professor falling asleep at meeting dealing with racism.  However, this comes off like a rule that you cannot be woke unless you are literally awake. It belittles rather than reenforces the importance of the underlying movement to bring attention to the problems of racism and reforms.

Academics cannot function in an environment where even dozing off in a meeting is evidence of racism.  We should all engage in this national debate while retaining a modicum of fairness and toleration. This includes not assuming that a statement is motivated by racism or an image (like this one) reflects some deep-seated hostility to reforms.  This could be a case of sleep deprivation or a case of sleep depravation (or not, as claimed, sleep at all).  It seems like the only response for many is compliance or termination to demands.  I recently reported good news that one such controversy at Creighton did not result in a demand for termination after a professor called supporting police evidence of white supremacy.  Conservative students did not start with a petition for his termination.  Yet, it is not clear if the university and other students would have taken such an approach if the content of his criticism was directed at protesters rather than police.

There is an alternative for these students then a petition for termination. You can ask for an apology or explanation.  On these other issues, you can raise specific complaints against the professor with the Administration.  These avenues allow for due process for all parties.



171 thoughts on “New York Professor Faces Latest Termination Petition Over Allegedly Falling Asleep During Anti-Racism Meeting”

  1. What Paul Gottfried had to say about obstreperous college students ca. 1969 applies here: “The explanation is sociological. They were children, behaving in ways normal for children. It’s just that their education gave them specious excuses for their behavior”. You will have very little of this if you don’t provide an incentive for it. Curtly tell the petitioners to pound sand, and if any of them harass institutional employees or other students, give them their walking papers. This isn’t that difficult. If it were evangelicals protesting, this would be done without a second thought.

    Every cohort of youth has a modest minority with cluster B personality disorders. You’re hearing from them because instead of sanctioning them, you accommodated them and threw rubbing alcohol on an open flame.

  2. How do you not fall asleep during one of these riveting topics. Cancel culture is something special. PS. Blue lives matter.

  3. John — You are flat-out wrong. I guess not old enough yet to have tired eyes

    Grow up.

    1. Because this has nothing to do with anything the professor did. This is a damaged young woman trying to claim a scalp and trying to enlist others to help her.

  4. Ii appears that narcoleptics need not apply. The ADA may come into play, if the” sleeping” is a symptom of a disability.

    1. It would be pretty funny if various parties ended up with a labor lawyer on their tail.

  5. “It is an example of why many academics feel that they are living in an increasingly intolerant and hostile environment”


    Brought it on themselves.

    1. I don’t understand. I filled my room full of crumpled newspaper then started flicking lit matches around the place. I had no idea the place would burn down.

    2. Exactly. As long as he and other academics support this It belittles rather than reenforces the importance of the underlying movement to bring attention to the problems of racism and reforms. Then they are only going to get more of that.

  6. Tell me why we are tolerating Mao’s Culture Revolution?

    500+ million guns this won’t end well.

  7. Let her ears and heart hear as she is booted out of her over-paid job by people she should have stood against years ago rather than fawning to for decades. She was clearly dozing and my ears and heart tell me she just says anything for a quiet life and to keep that job.

    1. I doubt this woman has been making the world better, but we have no particular reason to believe she’s been actively making it worse (other than one suspects the performing arts are not a collecting pool of people vigorous for academic standards). She’s nearly 70 years old and has been teaching for 32 years. She entered academe at a time when student woke-tards were common only at latrines like Brown.

  8. I’m far removed from my college days, but back in bygone times it was pretty tough to remove a tenured professor. Wouldn’t Ms Simon have tenure by now since she’s been with MMC since 1991?

    1. She was born around 1950, is already eligible for Medicare and full Social Security, and has been paying into TIAA-CREF for 30 years or so. She likely doesn’t have FU money, but she will be able to make rent

    2. I’m not a lawyer, but I think tenure protection is limited to academic freedom and provides job security as long as you don’t violate the law or break other rules of the workplace. As such it doesn’t mean a professor can do anything they want at work like sexual assault, for example. The way these radical leftists operate, they interpret anyone disagreeing them as racist/sexist/homophobic, etc and claim that creates an unsafe and toxic workplace, which then makes them susceptible for disciplinary action. That’s how they get around the whole tenure issue.

  9. Sooner or later the left with eat it’s own, it’s just beginning sooner.

    1. Anon – we know that Fauci lied to us on many occasions. He has admitted as much to Congress. His reasoning for lying wasn’t even logical.

      BTW, it looks like the Lincoln Project has registered as a foreign agent for the Russians.

      1. Actually the Lincoln Project has set up renting free space in Trump’s head. Vacant space must be occupied.

        1. Johnny Buglife – oddly enough, I don’t think Trump worries about the Lincoln Project too much. He is too busy taking care of the nation.

            1. Johnny Buglife – there is one in every family. Who is the one in your family? You?

                1. Buggy – everyone in Trump’s family is backing him, except Mary.

                  1. She’s just the first tell all. They’ll all write one but only after he’s dead.

        2. Yes…

          To DemoKKKrats (aka Lincoln Project) FACTS are always considered “vacant space”

          Because in order for the DemoKKKrats (and their partners in crime) to get away with their BS they have to pretend not to know things!

          1. The Lincoln Project is an organization of past Republicans. Some may still be.

              1. You don’t have a case. Before Trump the GOP at least claimed to be for balanced budgets, free trade, standing up to dictators, support for NATO, the Kurds, and witnesses in Senate impeachment rials.

      2. Article from Mar 19. There’s more presidential lies since/

        Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” — Trump in a CNBC interview.

        Jan. 30: “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five — and those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for us … that I can assure you.” — Trump in a speech in Michigan.

        Feb. 10: “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though. We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.” — Trump at the White House. (See our item “Will the New Coronavirus ‘Go Away’ in April?“)

        Feb. 14: “There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm — historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So we don’t know yet; we’re not sure yet. But that’s around the corner.” — Trump in speaking to National Border Patrol Council members.

        Feb. 23: “We have it very much under control in this country.” — Trump in speaking to reporters.

        Feb. 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” — Trump in a tweet.

        Feb. 26: “So we’re at the low level. As they get better, we take them off the list, so that we’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.” — Trump at a White House briefing.

        Feb. 26: “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” — Trump at a press conference.

        Feb. 26: “I think every aspect of our society should be prepared. I don’t think it’s going to come to that, especially with the fact that we’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.” — Trump at a press conference, when asked if “U.S. schools should be preparing for a coronavirus spreading.”

        Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” — Trump at a White House meeting with African American leaders.

        Feb. 29: “And I’ve gotten to know these professionals. They’re incredible. And everything is under control. I mean, they’re very, very cool. They’ve done it, and they’ve done it well. Everything is really under control.” — Trump in a speech at the CPAC conference outside Washington, D.C.

        March 4: “[W]e have a very small number of people in this country [infected]. We have a big country. The biggest impact we had was when we took the 40-plus people [from a cruise ship]. … We brought them back. We immediately quarantined them. But you add that to the numbers. But if you don’t add that to the numbers, we’re talking about very small numbers in the United States.” — Trump at a White House meeting with airline CEOs.

        March 4: “Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number.” — Trump in an interview on Fox News, referring to the percentage of diagnosed COVID-19 patients worldwide who had died, as reported by the World Health Organization. (See our item “Trump and the Coronavirus Death Rate.”)

        March 7: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, we’ve done a great job with it.” — Trump, when asked by reporters if he was concerned about the arrival of the coronavirus in the Washington, D.C., area.

        March 9: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!” — Trump in a tweet.

        March 10: “And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” — Trump after meeting with Republican senators.

          1. OK, you used that one up on the Jan 22 Trump lie – well actually one of the 16k documented lies he told before the virus. How about the others?

        1. Anon – you Dems wanted Trump to follow the scientists and he did.

            1. Anon – I have heard all sorts of people, including Nancy Pelosi, wanting the President to follow science.

              1. They want him to. He’s not. We’re in a mess as a result. Worst response, nationally, in the industrialized world. Personally I’m glad I live in a state where the governor is very much science based, but it doesn’t stop people from being idiots. Tourists and boaters checking their brains in the brain locker. Let’s hope we stay at our plateau.

        2. All this listing like this… it’s just so pathetic. As if Biden (or Hillary) would have done any better. Everyone knows that half of Trump’s tweets aren’t even worth reading and many times during the run of this virus, he was trying to reassure and prevent the panic that we’re seeing and hearing practically every day anyway. I would not want to be your ex-wife.

          1. Any serious adult would have done better and the plan easy to conceive. Having a toddler narcissist only concerned with avoiding responsibility and getting reelected, but acting based on what get’s him though the next hour and not what will benefit the nation – and ultimately him for performing – was guaranteed to be a disaster and it is. Everyone knows it now which is why Trump is toast.

            1. If he’s “toast,” then why do you feel the compulsive need to keep listing all of Trump’s sins? Worried?

        1. hocuspocus13 – actually masks do not work, except the N95 and hazmat suits.

          1. Your ignorance again, Paul. Masks work. Some work better than others. To your logic, if a mask is not a N95 then don’t wear it. If it only reduces the chances of breathing in Covid-19 by 70% then don’t use it. Sounds very Trump like, or stupid.

  10. The professor was tired of all the drama, no wonder she fell asleep.

  11. Maybe another solution: The administration should tell the students to STFU. They’re students and not members of the administration or staff and have ZERO say in how the school conducts its business. They abide by the schools rules not the other way around and if they don’t like it they can go somewhere else. It’ll be a good life lesson for if/when they graduate and enter the real world.

    1. The students are customers and should have some avenues of complaint. Some faculty deserve complaints. This complaint is witless and malicious. This isn’t a close call.

  12. In theatre you do not “advocate” for your buddies, you take you punishment and hopefully learn from it. I had a professor tell a student that the best thing he could do for the theatre would be to quit and get a job pumping gas. Do you think any of these snowflakes could take that?

    1. Paul C– I realize I am something of a fossil but I did not know that “sizeism” was a thing. Our local community theater just did “Shrek Jr. the Musical.” The director cast a skinny kid to play Pinocchio. Should we fire her?

      1. honestlawyer – was the production good? If it was, keep her, if it was bad, fire the kid.

    2. In economics, it’s usually in the 300 level courses that flailing students are persuaded to pursue other opportunities. That’s the whole point of the instructional smorgasbord.

  13. These spoiled-rotten undergraduates are ignoramuses–first, last, always. That is why I have been a long-time advocate of three years of compulsory national service for ALL Americans beginning on the later of (a) one week after the individual’s high-school graduation ceremony, or (b) one week after her/his 18th birthday. Few 18-year-olds have a clue about why they’re in college to begin with. Let them get a dose of life without a college education AND do something good for their country while they’re at it. That’ll sober up most of ’em. They’ll do better in school when they get there, and they won’t drag their feet cramming four years of undergraduate education into six.

    1. @WarrenDMiller,You are correct, return the draft and turn them over to drill Sgt..

      1. Sorry, we don’t have to make the world worse for military NCOs (whose work incorporates robust operational measures of competence) in order to address this problem. You don’t need a three year commitment to a demanding vocation to address this problem. You need a series of supervisors who tell problem employees to get themselves together or get out. A manager I had once said it’s much better to fire them at 19, when it doesn’t much matter. Just do it.

    1. No, they haven’t. The managers are truckling to them while playing whatever games managers do.

Comments are closed.