The following is an e-mail that purportedly was sent by a UW Oshkosh student to WTMJ Radio host Charlie Sykes after news broke that Professor Stephen Richards solicited recall petition signatures in his class on March 7th. That story was given a boost by a student recording of Richards spending about 8 minutes at the start of class that day asking kids to sign the petitions (right outside the classroom please!) and explaining why they should do so (but I won't keep track of who does or doesn't!). UWO Chancellor Richard Wells says Richards was talked to--and that "corrective action" was taken. The author of the e-mail is not identified.
direct from dr richards class
I'm sitting in Dr. (I use that term loosely) Richards' class as I'm writing this. Just wanted to let you know that instead of apologizing for his actions and everything that has come out in the last couple days, he scolded us. He started by telling us that he has had a police escort all day due to death threats. He then proceeded to tell us that it is illegal to record a professor without his/her permission. He stated that "anyone has any smart phones or recording devices, to turn them off or leave." He then proceeded to tell us that he could have charged those students with some sort of BS crime and had us arrested and kicked out of school. His rant has been going on for the better part of 20 minutes now and isn't showing any signs of slowing down or stopping. Just like his political rants which take place multiple times per week, this is the kind of crap that disrupts our opportunity to learn at an institution of higher education.
I don't see the need to be scolded because this idiot finally got busted. As a criminal justice student graduating in May, this guy is a disgrace to me and the rest of the students in the program.
Just a heads up that absolutely nothing has changed since the "corrective action" that was handed down from Chancellor Wells. The guy is a joke and doesn't deserve his position.
Thanks for getting this story on the air. The CJ students really appreciate that our story is finally being heard.
Now, I've got just a couple of things about what Professor Richards allegedly had to say.
First, nobody at the Oshkosh Police Department could confirm that Professor Richards was put under police protection and nobody at UWO Police returned my calls yesterday.
Second, when I was in college, it was considered common practice to record lectures in the classroom. Of course these were the days before professors would archive mp3's of their lectures allowing students to download them and listen back at their convenience--and that was on those little micro-tapes that sounded like garbage anyway (but I digress). And shouldn't a Criminal Justice instructor know that in Wisconsin a conversation can be recorded so long as one party is aware of the recording? And isn't recording conversations a common law enforcement tactic--in order to catch suspects discussing or committing illegal activity?
Third, nothing builds the student-teacher relationship more than threatening to have your class arrested and charged with crimes and kicked out of school. I'm guessing finals can't come fast enough for the kids in Professor Richards' classes this spring--and at the administration building as well. Perhaps the winds of summer will just blow this whole thing away, right?
For years now UW officials have been telling us that failing to provide employees with hefty raises and better benefits have "made it difficult to attract and retain the best teaching talent." The more we learn about Professor Stephen Richards, the more I think they might be right.