Student, professor at odds over class
Tyrone man claims instructor ‘silenced’ him; waiting for ruling from IUP’s Academic Integrity Board
Lake Ingle said he was trying to have a civil discussion when he spoke to challenge the opinion of his professor during an Indiana University of Pennsylvania class.
Now, Ingle, a Tyrone Area High School graduate, is barred from entering the classroom or participating in the special topics in a Christianity class that he must complete to graduate.
“She tried to silence me because I am a man, and I argued and said, ‘You can’t do that,'” Ingle said, talking about IUP Professor Alison Downie.
Ingle said his relationship with the teacher became contentious following a Feb. 28 class, in which students were shown a video of a transgender woman speaking about topics like sexism and “white-male privilege.”
After the video was played, Downie allegedly invited only female students in the room to comment with stories about when they have been marginalized by men, according to Ingle.
Downie did not confirm or deny that claim. An email sent to her Monday afternoon was not returned by early evening. An IUP spokeswoman said she could not respond to questions about the incident.
“I am unable to comment on your inquiry due to the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act pertaining to student education records,” she wrote in an email.
According to Ingle, he waited for 30 seconds to a minute, and no woman in the room spoke out.
“I waited long enough to see that no one was going to say anything,” he said, explaining that he then chose to speak.
Ingle said he offered opinions that disputed information presented in the class.
He denied things like the gender-wage gap, white-male privilege and the idea that there are more than two genders.
Ingle said he used articles and other information to back his claims.
“She wasn’t too happy with me, though I had given sufficient time for the females in class to speak,” he said, again speaking about his instructor.
The class continued, and other students entered the conversation, with at least some opposing Ingle’s beliefs, he said.
Ingle admitted he often has disagreements with teachers and peers in academic settings.
“At least at the end of the class we can shake hands and have a good laugh,” he said.
This time that was not the case. Ingle said he visited Downie in her office the next day for a previously scheduled meeting.
There, she handed him a set of documents, which said he acted disrespectfully in objection to class discussion by refusing to stop talking out of turn and speaking in angry outbursts, Ingle said.
The professor also demanded that Ingle make apologies to both her and others in the class.
“Lake will begin class with an apology … for his behavior and then listen in silence as the professor and/or any student who wishes to speak shares how he or she felt during Lake’s disrespectful and disruptive outburst,” a copy of the document supplied by Ingle reads.
“She said I have to sign this or I can’t go back to class,” he said.
Ingle said he did not immediately agree and decided to think before signing his name.
Ingle added that he was likely to sign, but before a decision could be made, he got a letter from IUP’s provost and vice president of academic affairs.
The letter informed Ingle that a request had been made to remove him from the class and that he was barred from attending until he appeared before the college’s Academic Integrity Board.
“The police were like, standing by, in case I came to class,” Ingle said.
Since then, Ingle said he has appeared before the Academic Integrity Board where both he and Downie offered testimony.
Now, he is waiting for a ruling, which is supposed to be given by March 19, he said.
Ingle is a senior at IUP where he is majoring in religious studies, and he needs to complete the class to graduate. A removal could delay that process, he said, explaining it also could jeopardize grant funding because without the class, he would no longer be considered a full-time student.
Ingle said he has been in contact with an attorney.
Mostly, Ingle said he is concerned about his professor’s “abuse of intellectual power” that has been used to take away his free-speech rights “because (his) argument opposes her views that she pushed in the class.”
“I was raised in a conservative home with conservative values,” Ingle said. “This professor is essentially bullying me into being more silent in class.”
The conflict between Ingle and the school has attracted attention on social media, as well as from national news outlets, including Fox News and the Washington Times.
Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.