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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Professor leaves class, claims students bullied her

Chico State Sociology professor, Janja Lalich, quit teaching her Women In Contemporary Societies class one month ago after her students took her to Judicial Affairs. Photo courtesy of Chico State

A sociology professor quit teaching one of her classes about a month ago after tensions escalated between her and some of her students.

Janja Lalich claims she quit teaching her “Women in Contemporary Societies” course because she felt she was bullied by several students, who had reported her to Judicial Affairs earlier in the semester.

Those students went to Judicial Affairs because they didn’t agree with her identifying students by physical qualities as a tool to help her remember student names during roll.

“It was said at the beginning of the semester, when she was still trying to figure out how to identify us in terms of putting a name to a face, and she asked us if we wanted to hear her identifying qualities for the students and we unanimously said, ‘Yes,’” said Nicole Sims, senior sociology and English education major. “Essentially, some of those qualities made other students unhappy, but it wasn’t necessarily the ones addressed that were upset. They were upset about the qualities attached to other students.”

Ways Lalich identified her former students included: “you’re really blonde,” “really long brown hair,” “tall pale blonde girl,” “sporty,” “mysterious” and “long brown hair Latina.”

Lalich said after some of the students told her they were uncomfortable with the names, she addressed the problem with the whole class and apologized to one of the students.

“We had resolved it in class,” Lalich said. “We had a 20 minute talk about it.

“I jot down things to remember them by—the majority of them wasn’t bothered by it,” she said. “A week later, there was a filed complaint against me. It was slander and full of lies and misrepresentation.”

Lalich said she felt uncomfortable continuing teaching the class because she felt attacked.

“I was afraid to say anything cause they would just sit back there and talk to each other and I thought they’d just write me up again,” she said.

She said after the incident, she changed her teaching style. After group discussions, she’d only show films out of fear the students would attack her again.

Lalich said the students who reported her made the class feel silenced because they would often criticize what other students said about the class material.

“So they thought they were standing up for the little people, in fact, they ended up intimidating people,” she said.

A student from the class who chose to remain anonymous, said they were not comfortable with some things Lalich said in class. The student wouldn’t comment further on additional issues that sparked the need to turn to Judicial Affairs but there was concern about how Lalich addressed the topics discussed in class.

Chelsea Fowler, another student in the class, said although a few students got offended by some things that Lalich said, she leads an open classroom where students can say whatever they want.

“Sometimes she says things that might offend people, but as a sociology class we critically analyze everything,” Fowler said.

Fowler said Lalich talked openly about her past experiences and was very outspoken in class — something that could’ve sparked the need for the students to turn to Judicial Affairs.

Sociology professor Nandi Crosby stepped in to teach the class for the rest of the semester and is getting paid to do so, Lalich said.

Lalich has worked at the university since 2001 and was planning to retire at the end of the spring 2015 semester but sped her retirement to December. She said she planned to retire early because of financial benefits but wouldn’t comment on whether the issue influenced her decision.

She plans to come back to teach part time as part of the Faculty Early Retirement Program.

Christine Lee can be reached at [email protected] or @leechris017 on Twitter.

Correction: This story previously incorrectly made a correlation to professor Janja Lalich’s decision to stop teaching “Women In Contemporary Societies” to a complaint filed by students in that class to Judicial Affairs. Lalich said her decision was made because she felt bullied. Various parts of this article were changed to reflect Lalich’s decision. This article also previously spelt sociology professor Nandi Crosby’s name wrong.

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    ChicoStudent // May 1, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Lame teacher. Can’t handle criticism so she retires.