An Oxnard College professor, who’s been identified by students as Michael Abram, has been put on administrative leave after he admonished a student who is reportedly hard of hearing this past Thursday. That admonishment then went viral on TikTok.
Due to the school running its classes over Zoom as a result of COVID-19, the exchange between Abram and the student was captured with relative ease by what appears to be another person in the class. Abram’s contention was that a student of his (“Ms. Salazar”) wasn’t paying attention.
“Ms. Salazar I’ve been talking to you, Ms. Salazar,” Abram can be seen saying in the clip.
In response she says “I can hear you a little bit.”
At that point he says “You can hear me a little bit? Why didn’t you answer all the time I spoke to you then?”
As he continues speaking she says, “I’m hard of hearing.”
“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 in a tone that sounds hostile (you can be your own judge, video’s below). “Maybe you can have your counselor join us.”
Another student interrupts at this point, telling the professor that the student he’s reprimanding can’t hear very well.
“Professor? She’s actually hard of hearing. So her translator goes in a little bit late. She can’t respond right away,” says that student.
The professor then contends that Salazar is just not paying attention. “She’s not trying. Are you her translator?” he asks.
“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,” says the classmate.
“Ms. Salazar, have your counselor speak with me because you have too much distraction to even understand what’s going on,” he ends with.
You can watch the exchange here:
The group whose responsibility it is to oversee Oxnard (the Ventura County Community College District) says they got hundreds of calls and emails regarding the video, according to KTLA.
“A lot of the people are understandably angry, upset, and saddened by what they saw in the video,” said district chancellor Greg Gillespie.
The district says a formal investigation was opened on Friday, that Abram is on paid leave pending the outcome of that investigation, and that it could take up to three months before that investigation’s finalized.