WSU police says they want to combat inappropriate disruption in the classroom

Allowing for free speech and offering a safe academic environment can be a thin line to walk. Sometimes, when a student exercises their right to free speech in the classroom, it’s not always appropriate.

During the March 27 Faculty Senate meeting, Kartikeya Saboo, assistant professor in the anthropology department, gave an example of just that.

Saboo brought up an experience in his classroom from last semester, when an angry student began shouting profanities. As the individual became more agitated, other students left, feeling unsafe.

“A couple of students very calmly stood up, and without a word they just walked out,” Saboo said. “They never returned to class, and I think they had deeper safety concerns at this point.”

Saboo’s understanding of the incident was that he, as a professor, had no real control of the situation. That since this individual was not directly threatening Saboo or their fellow classmates, that nothing could be done about the outburst in the moment.

WSU police chief Guy Schroder joined the conversation at Faculty Senate to shed some light on the issue. Though the campus police cannot prevent incidents like this, the university has procedures in place to reprimand hate speech in the classroom. 

Schroder suggested that if a student is ever in a situation in the classroom where they feel threatened or unsafe that they should call WSU police immediately. 

“I don’t want to interject myself into your classroom if I don’t have to,” Schroder said, “but I’m not the least bit afraid to. None of (the police) are. We will come to your aid, that’s what we’re here for.”

It is Schroder’s hope that through discussion the university can combat situations like these.

Future talks with the district attorney could be set in place by WSU police to try and gain a better picture of what constitutes a threat.