Stuttering Student and Frustrated Professor Battle It Out in National Newspaper

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Not Snyder. Photo: iStockphoto

The frowning face of New Jersey tenth grader Philip Garber Jr. graced the cover of the New York Times earlier this week, along with a story about his struggle with stuttering and the evil professor, Elizabeth Snyder, who told him not to speak in one of the classes he's taking at a local college. Once, the boy raised his hand for almost an entire 75-minute session, the article said, but was not called on because the professor did not want to "infringe on other students’ time." She allegedly told him, "Your speaking is disruptive." In that first story, the adjunct professor declined to comment, but today she gets to tell her side in an article of her own.

After receiving "the most hateful, vile, vicious emails," Snyder decided to speak out, claiming to be "the victim of a character assassination." She said "there was never any intent to stop him from speaking," and actually, Phillip is kind of a brat, or at least a little strange:


“I did not call on Philip in this class nor did I call on anyone else, simply because I had a detailed presentation planned for the class and I wanted to be finished in the prescribed time.

“He misinterpreted this and assumed it had something to do with his stuttering; I interpreted his hand up for 75 minutes as someone unfamiliar with a college lecture format and frankly a little rude,” she said. “In hindsight, I should have stopped my lecture and called on Philip because he had become so fixated on making a statement that it didn’t seem to matter to him that he was interrupting my presentation.”

Synder, a teaching veteran of 37 years, said the story "feels like it’s pretty much destroyed my life." If he hadn't switched classes it certainly would have destroyed young Philip's grade, too.

Stutterer Speaks Up in Class; His Professor Says Keep Quiet [NYT]
Professor Defends Treatment of Stutterer [NYT]