The California community college professor, Michael Abram, has now been placed on paid leave
A tenured professor at Oxnard College, a California community college, is officially on paid leave and under investigation after a video of him surfaced that shows him lashing out at a student who is hard-of-hearing.
The video, initially posted in three parts on Tik-Tok, shows professor Michael Abram during a Zoom class session. The student recording the session on her phone is hard-of-hearing, and in it, Abram appears abusive and ableist toward her for not answering him when he was speaking.
Repulsive professor from California talks down to a student who is hard of hearing pic.twitter.com/wRj8dho7f6
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) February 19, 2021
He asks the student, who says she can hear him a little bit, why she hasn’t been answering. It’s not clear whether Abram was aware the student was hard-of-hearing prior to class, but a fellow student informed him of it and even after being informed, Abram continued to be abusive.
Below is a summary of the exchange on the video:
“Ms. Salazar I’ve been talking to you, Ms. Salazar,” Abram can be heard saying.
“I can hear you a little bit,” she responds.
“You can hear me a little bit? Why didn’t you answer all the time I spoke to you then?” Abram, who teaches anatomy and physiology, says.
“I’m hard of hearing,” she says as he continues talking over her.
“Why don’t we talk sometimes? Why don’t you email me? We’ll set up a live Zoom and we’re gonna have some real communication at some point in time,” the instructor says aggressively. “Maybe you can have your counselor join us.”
At that point, the second student intervenes.
“Professor? She’s actually hard of hearing. So her translator goes in a little bit late. She can’t respond right away,” the student says.
Abram doesn’t appear to care, continues to be rude, and dismisses the student who stood up for Salazar: “She’s not paying attention. She’s not trying. Are you her translator?”
“No, I’m not … but it’s slower on her end because she needs to get it translated and then it goes through her hearing aide,” she says.
“Ms. Salazar, have your counselor speak with me because you have too much distraction to even understand what’s going on,” he says.
Later in the video, Abram denies being abusive. “I’m not attacking you, I’m not attacking you,” he says. “I’m just significantly disappointed in you. That’s all, that’s all it is. I’m not attacking you.”
Many people who watched the video were justifiably outraged and upset at the cruelty and ableism displayed by the professor.
Part of the reason my deaf sister made it through school without having to take specialized classes was because of the participation of her teachers in understanding her specific challenges and how to work around them— I’m disgusted and saddened 4 his student!
— Elle Duncan (@elleduncanESPN) February 20, 2021
His colleagues need to take him aside and let him know this is not acceptable. Bet he never bothered to read the accommodation memo, and good to see another student stick up for her, though he doubles down .
— Dr. Troy “I Told You So” Wood (@proftroydwood) February 19, 2021
Once that guy heard the word “translator”, the two most natural questions are …
1) “When you say ‘translator’, do you mean a person or software?”
2) “Why do you need a translator? Is it a language issue or a hearing issue?”
Instead, he’s trying to save face & show who’s boss?
— BidenCorgi GalactiHarris – Actual (@BattlecorgiG) February 19, 2021
As someone who wears Bluetooth hearing aids, this pisses me off. I find it so difficult to hear on Zoom even though it’s playing in my ears. He should be fired.
— Nelly Mc (@Mc5Nelly) February 19, 2021
Unacceptable. If a professor has concerns about someone’s performance in class their responsibility is to talk with that person individually and see if they can assist, not try to bully and humiliate. This guy should not have a job teaching anyone.
— Deena (@feistyfosta) February 19, 2021
As an educator (speaking from experience), this man needs to be reported.TOTALLY uncalled for. First off, you do not berate a student in front of other students. Also, it is YOUR JOB to work with the student and her translator to make sure SHE has all of the resources she needs.
— BubbsMagee9 (@BubbsMagee9) February 19, 2021
According to a statement from the college, Abram is now on administrative leave.
A Message from Oxnard College’s President pic.twitter.com/OsIfCcZM4Y
— Oxnard College (@OxnardCollege) February 19, 2021
“I am saddened and outraged beyond words that any of our students should either be or feel disrespected by any of our employees,” acting President Luiz Sanchez said in the statement.
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