Professor Defends Treatment of Stutterer

Ann McClure's picture

Calling herself “the victim of a character assassination,” the college professor who asked a student with a severe stutter not to pose questions in class said that her actions were misinterpreted, and that she did not mean to silence him.

In an interview, the professor, Elizabeth Snyder, said Thursday that since the dispute was first reported this week in The New York Times, “I’ve gotten the most hateful, vile, vicious e-mails,” making her fear for her safety.

The student, Philip Garber Jr., is a 10th grader taking courses at the County College of Morris, in Randolph, N.J., but talking for him is slow and difficult. He was enrolled in a history course taught by Ms. Snyder, an adjunct professor. After a few classes, she sent him an e-mail asking that he pose questions after class, “so we do not infringe on other students’ time,” and that he write answers to her questions rather than try to reply out loud.

She did so, she said, partly to put him at ease, and also because he would have taken up too much class time if she had let him. “He seemed to want to answer every question,” she said, adding, “you’d have to take into consideration the amount of time he takes to get the answer out.”

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