In the late fall of 2014, during rehearsals for a play he was coördinating, he spoke sharply to a student: a misfire not of language, he says, but of tone. The student ran out of the room. Copeland says that he wanted to smooth ruffled feathers and keep the production on track, so he agreed to meet with the student and his department chair. At the meeting, the student asked that he leave the room, and she and the department head spoke alone for about half an hour.Much, much more in the article. Highly recommended. You should be able to read it without a subscription.
Later, the dean of arts and sciences asked to meet with him. He reported complaints that Copeland had created “a hostile and unsafe learning environment,” and that he had “verbally berated” a student—but said that it must be kept confidential which student or incidents were concerned. Then the dean asked Copeland to sign a document acknowledging that a complaint had been lodged against him.
“I’m thinking, Oh, God! I’m cast in one of my least favorite plays of all time, ‘The Crucible,’ by Arthur Miller!” he told me. He gave the dean a list of students he thought could confirm that he hadn’t “berated” anyone. He says the list was brushed aside: “They said, ‘What matters is that the student felt unsafe.’ ” Then he was told that, because gender could have been a factor, the issue was being investigated as a possible Title IX violation. That inquiry was later dropped; by then, Copeland had hired a lawyer. In September, 2015, the original inquiry was still going on, and Copeland said that the dean told him that if he wouldn’t meet without his lawyer he would be brought before the Professional Conduct Review Committee. Copeland and his lawyer welcomed that idea: the committee process would bring some daylight. They never heard back.
May 26, 2016
"I’m thinking, Oh, God! I’m cast in one of my least favorite plays of all time, ‘The Crucible,’ by Arthur Miller!"
The laugh-out-loud line (for me) in "Letter from Oberlin/The Big Uneasy/What’s roiling the liberal-arts campus?" a great New Yorker article by Nathan Heller. The line is spoken by Roger Copeland, a professor of theater and dance who's been teaching at Oberlin since the 70s.