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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

MS212-“Managerial Decision Making”-and Spitting

In a Dorchester bar on a Friday night the bartender serves up a beer and says, “There was quite a ruckus at UMass the other day.”

The bartender went on to say that it all started the previous week when a student raised his hand and said the class shouldn’t be allowed to take their exams from home over the Internet over a five-day period. Then, in the following class, the instructor said exams would be given in class.

On Thursday, June 27, “this girl got real mad and started swearing and cussing at the guy who had raised his hand, and then she spit on him, yeah, spit on him. And the police came and took her from class and we were all sitting there real quiet-like. And then they brought her back to class, so I don’t know what happened or anything. Can she get kicked out of school for that?”

While the tale provided a topic to pass the time in the bar, when asked if the conversation was “on the record,” the bartender declined. “Oh no, I don’t even know their names, and don’t be using my name in your newspaper.”

On Monday, July 1, the “guy” in question, Student Senator John Laraway, wrote a letter-to-the-editor to The Mass Media. Laraway also works behind the counter at Student Life and spoke to a Mass Media editor that day. “You can expect a letter-to-the-editor from me, I’ve already emailed it.” After speaking with The Mass Media and learning that the newspaper would be publishing an article about the incident Laraway decided that the letter was not necessary.

In the letter Laraway quoted a Boston Globe article dated June 29, 2002. A Massachusetts state Appeals Court, “following the lead of a federal appeals court in Boston and state courts in Georgia and Kansas,” found that “intentionally spitting on someone is an indirect touching that is repulsive, physically offensive, and violates the victim’s personal integrity.”

The course that started the “ruckus” is taught by Proffesor Octavio Richetta, MS212, “Managerial Decision Making.” The course syllabus states that online quizzes and exams will be given, each spanning a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

“Drawing the line between collaboration (which is often allowed and even encouraged in this class) and cheating (which will be dealt with most harshly) can sometimes be difficult for students. Students can and should help each other … but cannot discuss or work with others once they start working on the on-line quizzes. (sic)”

“This course also emphasizes an awareness of the full context of decision-making, including considering considering the ethical, social, and organizational impacts of alternative courses of action…”

According to Laraway on Thursday, June 20, the professor had asked the students about their preferences for the administering of the tests, and had proposed five-day time spans. “I didn’t like that and raised my hand,” Laraway said. “I said people already had ample time to cheat. [Another student,] Amber McClure said, ‘You’re not the teacher.'”

“The instructor said he’d have the final word anyway,” Laraway said. “He shouldn’t give the students the option because it creates too much of a rift.”

On Tuesday, June 25, the class was informed that the quiz on Tuesday, July 2, would be in class with two pages of notes allowed, there would be no class on July 4 and attendance on Thursday, July 9, would be optional. The final exam on Thursday, July 11 would also be in class with students allowed four pages of notes.

The following day Laraway received an “anonymous” email from “Nick Hazard,” to his UMB address: “Just because you don’t like the way a teacher has a class set up you go and run and tell like an infant. What goes around comes around and you will get yours. Not everyone cheats and you have ruined a two week break that we could have had.”

“For a six-week course a two-week break doesn’t make any sense,” Laraway later said. “And a student asked ‘Who told [about the cheating]? And he [Prof. Richetta] said he wouldn’t give their names-names, plural.”

Laraway pointed out that the Code of Conduct explains cheating, “But I think it’s a bunch of fluff because nobody does anything about it. In the three years I’ve been at this university I’ve seen people cheat in every class.”

Laraway inquired about who had access to the class emails and said he was told by Prof. Richetta that “only enrolled people this summer have access to the site.”

Laraway brought the threatening email to the attention of the class instructor, Janet Wagner, Associate Dean of Management, and the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Angeline Lopes. On Wednesday, June 26, Lopes characterized the anonymous email as “intimidation.”

“I don’t support cheating,” Laraway said, “It degrades the value of all of our degrees.”

Finally, Thursday, June 27, arrived. On the plaza outside the classroom in McCormack Hall, a group of three students were sitting on the ledge. “I was on my way to class when I heard one of the three, a female classmate, call me a ‘fucking asshole’. I stopped at the entrance, turned around, and asked her what she said, and then I asked for her name.

She told me, “Don’t come fucking near me you fucking asshole or I’ll spit on you. Another student got between us. I asked her again for her name and she then spit directly in my face and continued to call me a ‘fucking asshole’. I stood there momentarily, and then walked away and immediately called 911 on-campus police.”

Officer John St. Ives arrived and interviewed Laraway and asked him to point out the female student who had spit in his face and the witnesses. Officer St. Ives then interviewed the suspect and the possible witnesses. Officer St. Ives later said, “Laraway showed great restraint. He conducted himself well, many people would have hit her.”

On Monday evening Laraway picked up a copy of the police report. “We advised him to take out a complaint with Dorchester District Court, (DCC)” St. Ives said, explaining that the witnesses refuse to confirm the incident.

Laraway also contacted the UMass Counsel’s office to report the incidents.

Sergeant Stanley Stewart confirmed Officer St. Ives’ statements. “It was an unwitnessed assault, so we can’t make an arrest-he’ll have to file his own charges. I believe it’s being handled internally as well.

According to the June 29 Boston Globe article, deliberately spitting on someone constitutes an assault and battery, a charge punishable by up to two and a half years in jail.

On Tuesday, July 2, Laraway stated that he had stopped by the DCC but was told he required the addresses of the alleged assailant and the witnesses to file a report. This is valuable information for all individuals to know-that after being assaulted they should ask the assailant for their address.

“The campus police have been very helpful, they told me where to file the report and gave me tips on filling it out. I asked the people at DCC if they could call the school to get the address of the girl who assaulted me, but they said no, I had to get the information. I still haven’t heard back from the UMass counsel, but I’m headed back to DCC to complete the report. They said they’ll review the complaint and if there’s probable cause they’ll subpoena the suspect and witnesses.”

Laraway said that the quiz had gone fine-he had taken the test alone in Prof. Richetta’s office. “He didn’t know how the other students would react-he didn’t want to disrupt everybody’s focus.”