When mathematics professor Clifford Weil entered his new classroom and stood in the same place where, just three days ago, his predecessor reportedly had a mental breakdown in front of his students, Weil was lighthearted as if nothing had happened.
“It’s the way I’ve always taught,” Weil said. “I’ll teach this class the way I always used to teach it.”
Monday evening after mathematics professor John McCarthy reportedly stripped to just his socks and had an apparent mental breakdown in front of the students in the Engineering Building, Weil said he was asked to come out of retirement to take on McCarthy’s course load for the remainder of the semester.
Some students still are struggling to forget the incident, despite McCarthy’s replacement.
“You’re a little on edge,” no-preference freshman Adam Barker said. “Last time you were here all that stuff went down. (But) stuff happens in life.”
One question the event raised was of the validity of the students’ grades in the class given the circumstances.
“No one in this class did very well on that first exam,” Barker said. “I don’t feel it’s very fair to have a guy in that mental state grading our exams.”
Fellow student, environmental biology freshman Erin McMachen said Weil might drop the students’ grades for the first exam in an effort to move forward from the incident.
The situation is an opportunity to discuss broader mental health issues, said Dr. Jan Collins-Eaglin of the MSU Counseling Center.
“If he had a heart attack, would it have been the same reaction?” Collins-Eaglin said. “What was disturbing about this was the way it was being sensationalized. This is a person’s life, and we need to think about it with compassion.”
Police response time to the incident also has been questioned by some students.
University spokesman Kent Cassella in an e-mail said Ingham County Central Dispatch received a 911 phone call from MSU at 1:03:49 p.m. Monday, but MSU police weren’t notified until 1:07:48 p.m.
Cassella said MSU police responded less than 4 minutes after they received the information from dispatch.
“My main problem is the incredibly slow response by the police,” computer science senior Hayden Boroski, who called 9-1-1 during the incident, said in a previous interview. “At first … we didn’t know he was a professor at the time. We had no idea if he had a gun on him.”
Supervisors at the Ingham County Dispatch Center declined to comment Wednesday.