English instructor Mark McQueen was put on paid administrative leave last week and is under investigation for allegedly punching a student in his class on Halloween, according to college officials.
McQueen is accused of striking a student who was allegedly using slurs and behaving in a hostile manner during a lecture regarding racism in front of his English 1B class, according to Roger Marheine, Faculty Association president and grievance speaker for McQueen.
“A [white] male student stood up from his desk and uttered a number of slurs. Mark was thus in danger of immediate physical harm,” Marheine stated in a letter.
McQueen, who has a number of health issues, was allegedly in the hospital after the event because of stress related illness, according to Marheine.
“Mark was thus in danger of immediate physical harm [from the student’s attempted attack]; Mark has a number of health issues, including an eye surgery,” Marheine said. “If Mark were hit on the left side of his face, he could be blinded. Mark’s safety and security were threatened. The college is responsible for the safety and well being of its faculty and students.”
Marheine defended McQueen via phone interview, saying he was being “bullied” by the college, which was taking extreme measures over the situation.
“Even more alarming is that the college has placed Mark McQueen on administrative leave and in its initial letter effectively put him on house arrest. Sadly, the college continues to pursue a strategy of bullying, a blame the victim tactic,” Marheine said.
General Counsel Gail Cooper said the college must keep McQueen and the student away from each other during the investigation.
“Placing Mr. McQueen on paid administrative leave is a necessary measure to protect the integrity of the investigation and the student complainant and witnesses,” Cooper said. “Mr. McQueen continues in good standing with his regular pay during the investigation, and he and the student are both shielded from any further incident during its course.”
Cooper also argued that Marheine’s public letter to the college was “one-sided,” and a proper investigation was protocol for such matters.
“Notwithstanding Mr. Marheine’s one-sided email, the investigator will investigate both sides of the story and after evaluating all of the evidence, will determine which allegations are sustained and which are not,” Cooper said.
Numerous students commented on the Courier’s Facebook page regarding McQueen’s sudden administrative leave, stating he was a good instructor and it was alarming for anyone to hear about him allegedly attacking a student.
Former Associated Students vice president Anna Torres was shocked to hear of the alleged attack.
“I had him for English 1A! Didn’t pin him for that type of behavior,” she wrote.
McQueen’s investigation is ongoing and he is still on paid administrative leave.