Education / Schools, Lawsuit of the Day, Minority Issues, Racism

Nursing Student Sues School After Complaining That Her Classmates Wouldn’t Stop Speaking Spanish

I do not understand people who are too uneducated to know multiple languages who get pissed at people who don’t speak multiple languages perfectly.

I get it, this is ‘Murica. And most people here speak English. And if you go to receive a government service, it’s reasonable to expect that service to be provided in your native tongue. I’d be pissed off if I went to the DMV and all of the instructions were in Spanish or French or Chinese, but not English.

But if they’re in English… what do I care if they’re also in everything else? What do I care if everybody else is speaking a different language? If I can conduct my government business in my native tongue in my native country, what do I care if some Spanish-speaking AMERICAN CITIZEN can also conduct his business in HIS native tongue in HIS native country? Christ preaching in Aramaic, a good translation never hurt anybody.

Of course, I live in New York. I can spell Bhutanese. There’s a lawsuit today from a nursing school student who claims she was unfairly suspended from school after allegedly being racist to Spanish speakers in her school.

I’d say she’d lose, but we’re talking about Arizona, so who the hell knows…

Courthouse News Service reports on the lawsuit of Terri Bennett versus Pima Community College. From the complaint:

“On or about March 18, 2013, Ms. Bennett started a class in Introduction to Nursing, presented by PCC instructor Ms. Elizabeth Coleman.

“During this class, the talking, interruptions and distractions, all in Spanish, from her peers increased dramatically, to the point that it impede Ms. Bennett’s ability to concentrate, focus, listen to the lecture, and participate in group studies, clinicals, and other learning activities.

“On or about April 3, 2013, Ms. Bennett participated in an interaction between Spanish speakers and non-Spanish speakers in her class, in which the Spanish speakers were asked not to speak in Spanish in front of non-Spanish speakers. The Spanish-speaking group of students laughed and mocked Ms. Bennett and the other non-Spanish speakers.

“At this point, Ms. Bennett was finding that the PCC learning environment was hostile to English speakers who did not speak Spanish. She felt ostracized, excluded, and segregated from the rest of her class, the majority of which all spoke Spanish (including the instructors). She felt that she was unable to participate fully in group studies, skills labs, clinicals and other learning activities. The constant translations during class were a distraction, a disruption and prevented her from concentrating and taking full advantage of her studies.

After insulting all of the Spanish-speaking students in the class by asking them to not talk in their language because it was distracting to her, Bennett felt excluded from the group. So… it’s not just that Bennett wanted the Spanish-speaking kids to stop speaking in Spanish, she also wanted them to talk to her in English.

The nerve. That’d be like me telling a person from Texas living in New York to stop talking in their dopey, Southwestern accent that nobody can understand, and instead start talking like a “real New Yawker” when speaking in public.

Anyway, after being appropriately laughed down by the other students, Bennett went to the administration:

Bennett claims she complained to David Kutzler, director of the nursing program, on April 3. In this meeting in his office, “Ms. Bennett attempted to report to Mr. Kutzler her complaint that she was having difficulty with students speaking Spanish during class and during her group study sessions, and that she found the learning environment to be hostile to her as an English speaker,” according to the complaint.

It continues: “Mr. Kutzler reacted very badly to Ms. Bennett’s complaint. He accused Ms. Bennett of ‘discriminating against Mexican-Americans’ and threatened to ‘write [her] up for a violation of the code of conduct based on discrimination and harassment.’

“He accused Ms. Bennett of being a ‘bigot and a bitch,’ and warned her ‘[y]ou do not want to go down that road.'”

Go Mr. Kutzler!

It should have ended there, but Bennett claims the school took more aggressive action:

Later that month, Bennett says, she received her first-ever negative progress report from a teacher, for “ineffective communication skills” and unresolved issues with other students.

On April 22, campus security officers gave her a suspension letter, escorted her off campus and followed her all to Interstate-10, Bennett says in the complaint.

The envelope contained two letters, one of them a “Notice of Immediate Suspension,” Bennett says. This letter “simply advised Ms. Bennett that she was being placed on immediate suspension because ‘(1) you may present an unreasonable risk of danger to yourself or others or (2) your presence on College property poses a significant risk of disruption of educational activities.’ No reasons whatever were given,” the complaint states.

The second letter, “Notice to Student of Review Meeting,” claimed that Bennett “had violated three provisions of the Code of Conduct, namely, that she 1) disrupted class, 2) engaged in discriminatory conduct, and 3) engaged in ‘harassing conduct,’ including ‘stalking’ and ‘bullying.'”

Well, I don’t know if Bennett did more than she admits to in her complaint, but if all she did was bitch and moan, then the school probably shouldn’t have suspended her. Right? Bennett, clearly, has to tolerate Spanish-speaking people in her classroom. Spanish-speakers equally have to tolerate alleged bigots like Bennett in their classroom.

If all she did was bitch. If she did harass, stalk, or put other students at risk with her allegedly bigoted behavior, that’s a different story.

BUT… this is Arizona. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me at this point if Bennett had the right to impress Spanish-speakers in her class into her service. Arizona has long since passed the point of sensible law or reasonable government. Could an Arizona court force PCC to reinstate Bennett? Could they fine anybody who spoke Spanish in her presence? Could they force Bennett’s classmates to laugh at her “in English”?

In Arizona, anything discriminatory is possible.

Arizona JC Booted Her for Wanting English-Only Class, Student Says [Courthouse News Service]

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