Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
On March 13, a verbal disagreement between a University of Missouri–St. Louis student and her professor regarding her persuasive speech assignment resulted in a physical altercation between the two.
The incident began when the student gave a speech to COMM 2240, Persuasive Communication, in Cark Hall. She gave a persuasive speech regarding her beliefs as to why she believes domestic terrorist attacks, such as the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, were perpetrated by the government. Midway through her presentation, a verbal argument broke out between the professor and the student.
“After the student gave an insensitive presentation over acts of domestic terrorism in the United States (claiming that none of it actually happened and it was all an elaborate scheme constructed by the government), our professor expressed his dislike for her presentation and that’s when it began,” a student in the class who wished to stay anonymous said. “Granted, the tone he used in expressing his opinion was probably more harsh than it should have been, but the response [the student] gave back wasn’t consistent. She exploded and started yelling at him, calling him every name that wasn’t his until he told her to leave.”
As the confrontation continued to escalate to the point of yelling, the student began leaving the classroom. The professor followed her to the doorway where a physical altercation took place.
“The moment they stepped out of the classroom [the student] swung to hit [the professor] and missed,” the anonymous student said. “That’s when he ‘patted’ her or ‘pushed’ her. After that, that’s when she swung again and actually hit him.”
Taking notice of the altercation, a few students got up to try and de-escalate the situation.
“Our professor followed her out of the room and when the door closed she hit him,” the anonymous student said. “I ran out of the classroom to help.”
The student returned to the classroom where she began yelling, “He pushed me,” as another argument broke out this time between her and the anonymous student.
“Not to make this about me, but once I did that I was her new target,” the anonymous student said. “She forced me back into the room and began yelling at me. I told her to get out and of course she refused, stating that I wasn’t going to ‘make’ her leave. I pushed her out of my face and that’s when she hit me in the chest.”
Following her argument with the anonymous student, the student left the classroom and did not return. The professor re-entered the classroom a few minutes later with an injury to his nose.
“In explosive situations such as these I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to handle it. Sure, there’s a logical way, but like Plato says, ‘Sometimes your appetite and reason don’t work together,’” the anonymous student said. “If someone is yelling at you and displaying potentially harmful body language, you as a human are going to want to protect yourself. Everyone’s reaction is different. That being said, I don’t think our professor reacted incorrectly or that he could’ve handled the situation better.”
At around 1 p.m., UMSL Police responded to the altercation between the professor and the student. According to UMSL PD, both of the parties involved cooperated with the investigation.
According to Associate Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications Bob Samples, the investigation has been completed and the evidence is currently being evaluated by the county’s prosecuting attorney’s office.
When reached out for comment, the professor declined to respond.