Professor resigns, controversy remains for AET students

A bitter dispute between SMC administrators and an instructor came to a climax last week when Professor Bill Hogan formally resigned from his position, alleging that his students were targeted because of his frequent public criticisms. Hogan's campaign included a series of Facebook protests, YouTube videos and frequent letters to SMC's top officials condemning the AET campus administrative policies and hygiene standards. Hogan, professor of Interior Architectural Design (INTARC), also claimed that the INTARC program's "funding, resources and teaching hours" were being unfairly compromised as a result of a "grudge against the Interior Architectural department."

In response to Hogan's resignation, President Chui L. Tsang said that it is "a personnel matter," that will be "treated confidentially as will all personnel matters."

Tsang also said Hogan's allegations regarding antagonistic practices targeting INTARC students would be looked into, and "proper actions" would be taken to "correct the situations if needed."

Among a long list of grievances, Hogan said that his students were denied access to the AET drafting rooms in order to work on projects, and were harassed by AET lab technicians while making use of the building's computer laboratories. In some instances, Hogan claims that a number of his students were unfairly accused of cheating.

"[Administration] couldn't get to me so they went after my students… and I'm unwilling to sacrifice them," said Hogan. "I had about six students come to me reporting that the head lab technician had threatened to write them up for academic dishonesty for working together on a project, even though they were instructed to work together at my direction."

Subsequent to Hogan's resignation, five students contacted the Corsair complaining of harassment by AET lab technicians. One of the students affected was Lucian Hood, 67, a registered architect who has run his own architectural company since 1995.

Hood said that he had experienced harassment by technicians while using the building's computer lab. He said that while he and another student worked quietly together on a project, a technician interrupted their work, threatening to have them removed should they continue to collaborate on the project.

"Hogan regularly told us: when you talk together and work together, you learn together," Hood said. He also said that the other student has subsequently refused to use the building's computer labs for fear of being the recipient of what Hood calls "ridiculous treatment."

Katherine Muller, dean of external programs and the senior administrator at the AET building, said that she will "investigate and address" any complaints that are made to her. She said that she has received no formal complaints yet regarding harassment by AET computer lab technicians.

Muller admitted that potential mechanisms could be put in place to counter further student harassment, should these accusations be substantiated. She said that faculty at the AET building could inform her prior to them assigning group projects to students. This would give her the opportunity to notify the lab technicians of any potential collaborative work in the computer room.

Another INTARC design student at SMC, Veronika Flagenheimer, said that she had witnessed three students threatened with expulsion by campus police for academic dishonesty, despite the fact that they were working on an assigned group project. However, it is the restricted access to drafting rooms that troubles her most.

Flagenheimer said, "On huge and standard drafting projects, projects that take hours to complete over the course of a semester, students are forced to cram as much drafting as possible during class time because that is the only time we have to access the drafting tables."

She continued, "Let me tell you, from personal experience, being forced to draft on my coffee table is nothing short of uncomfortable and at some times, extremely painful."

Muller admitted that while there are three drafting tables situated in the communal students services room for student use, students are prohibited from using the quieter drafting rooms outside of classroom hours.

Linda Polari, chair of architecture, landscape and interiors at Otis College of Art and Design, said that their studios and drafting rooms are always open for student use while the building is open. From midnight onwards, a security guard is posted to ensure students' safety.

Regarding Otis College's policy towards the completion of group assignments in their computer lab, Polari said that they "encourage and teach" collaboration as part of the design process. "We do not oversee our students' homework in any way; we really encourage student autonomy."

Hogan's year of campaigning for more resources for his students is at an end. After a crusade that included a YouTube video where he compared toilet seat swabs with swabs taken from computer keyboards, Hogan said that he is taking time off from full-time teaching. "I felt like I had no choice," he said of his resignation. "The sad thing is more teachers are too scared to speak out against abusive administrative practices because they fear retribution from above."