You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

EMU professor accused of rousing sleeping student: 'I did not kick him'

By John Counts


Mark Higbee

From the Eastern Michigan University website

The Eastern Michigan University professor accused of kicking a sleeping student to wake him up said he did no such thing.

“I did not kick him. I did not touch him,” said Mark Higbee, who has taught at EMU since 1994. “This is a tiny little incident that has been blown out of proportion.”

In a phone interview with, Higbee said he was surprised the incident was reported to the police and in the news media.

Around 3 p.m. Monday, Higbee was near the end of a discussion in his History of Black Americans class, which has less than 20 students, when the incident occurred when he noticed the student had fallen asleep.

Higbee said he approached the sleeping male student and used a louder voice while continuing the discussion and that’s what woke the student up.

“I was talking about the subject and it woke him up,” he added.

If there was any physical contact, Higbee contends, it was accidental. He said it's possible he brushed the student’s foot with his own while he was walking past.

The student immediately left the class.

After the student spoke with a university official, he reported the incident to the police, Higbee said. The student ultimately did not choose to pursue charges, according to police. The student has not officially withdrawn from the class, but is expected to possibly transfer to another history class.

While Higbee still seems perplexed as to why the incident was ever reported, he wishes the student well in the future.

“I hope in his other classes, he shows a willingness to learn,” he said. “I wish the student well in his education.”

So far, the incident hasn’t disrupted the class, which met Wednesday and had a great discussion, he said. Higbee wants to make sure the public knows most students don’t snooze in class.

“This mistakenly suggests that a lot of students fall asleep in class,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, our students are very engaged in their classes.”

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Heather Soloman

Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

I had a two year old and a three month old when I took Mark Higbee's History of the Civil Rights Movement and as exhausted as I was, the only time I "fell" asleep was when I was sitting there waiting for the lecture to start. I almost wish some of these students who fell asleep in class were kicked out ... if you have such a weird schedule with work that you are exhausted for a lecture, take a later lecture or take the class online. There are plenty of people who will be glad to take your place.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 4 a.m.

Obviously a false sense of priviledge on the students part. I say prosecute himn for filing a false police report, give him an option of jail or the military, and send him to the front if he chooses the military over jail for perjury and filing a false police report. Soundslike there should be 19 eye witnesses to aid the prosecution.


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

I had Dr. Higbee for two classes while I was an Undergrad. I thought he was a great professor that really demanded a lot out of his students, but he would in turn offer a great amount of help to ensure your success. I truly enjoyed being in his class and thought he was one of the better professors I had at EMU.


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Those of you who are making excuses for the student--would you really not mind if someone you were earnestly trying to communicate with pulled his hat over his eyes, stretched out, and went to sleep? Myself, I'm willing to let it go the first time, but when someone comes late, leaves early, and generally sends me the message that he doesn't regard what I have to say as worth even minimal attention, I do get a little testy. Can't we reasonably expect a little courtesy from students whom we're doing our best to help in the way we're trained (and hired) to help them? Why do we have a moral obligation to assume that a student like the one in this case is justified in sleeping through a class that we're laboring to make valuable for him? Yes, maybe this young man is holding down a full-time job and taking twenty credits, or something...but I can hardly believe that a serious, hardworking kid wouldn't have the grace to apologize for falling asleep rather than becoming rude and confrontational. If he'd even muttered 'sorry,' straightened up, and tried to pay attention for the remainder of the class, this whole fuss could have been avoided. Is there any situation in the working world where behavior such as that which this student exhibited WOULDN'T be unacceptable? Shouldn't he be learning that lesson. too, along with whatever Professor Higbee is teaching?


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

I came up behind a person walking down the middle of the road, so I ever so slightly just tapped the car horn to let them be aware I was behind should have seen the rage, gestures, mouthing profanities that came from the woman. I think Prof. Higbee probably raised his voice to wake up the student who may have just dozed off, which, sometimes can't be controlled. People so unforgiving as this student, make life miserable for those around them...can you imagine if the professor had touched the kid's shoulder to wake him up?

Geoff Larcom

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

Regardless of the sequence of events in this instance, it's important to note that if the University becomes aware of any allegation of assault, it is obligated to report it to the Department of Public Safety for appropriate action. Geoff Larcom is executive director of media relations at Eastern Michigan University.

Mark H

Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

Absolutely, Geoff, any allegation of assault needs to be reported to the police. What I was accused of however does not meet the definition of an accusation of assault. I recall well the days when EMU Administrators frequently acted to suppress students' reports of assault and sexual violence, and I am glad those days are over. -- Mark Higbee


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

This person should not be teaching an African American history class. He is very loud and offensive and uses the "N" word abusively. We started to report him to the dean some time ago but didn't feel like the hassle.


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

Yeah right, you didn't feel like going through the hassle of reporting a college instructor for using the N word abusively. Who do you think you're fooling anyway? By the way, are most students taking that class because they want to or because the degree they're working for requires it even though it has nothing to do with what the field of study, such as the nursing program?


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10 p.m.

I don't believe your allegation.

John Counts

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

A clarification has been made in this story. Previously it stated, without attribution, that the student went to a university official before filing a report. This information has now been attributed to Higbee, who made comments to me on the phone during our interview and on this thread that the student went to the university's ombudsman after the classroom incident and that the ombudsmen then directed the student to file a police report. I spoke with the ombudsman, Gregory Peoples, today by telephone. He said he never had any direct contact with the student and did not direct him to file a report with EMU police. Peoples said the student filed the report around 6 p.m. Monday before he had any contact with Peoples' office. Peoples said the student sent an email at 10 p.m that night. The student also called and left a message the next day, but Peoples said he never spoke with the student.

Meg An

Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 3:37 a.m.

It sounds like the student should be held accountable for his actions of falsifying information.

Mark H

Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

The second sentence in the Police report says that the accuser "stated he was advised by the EMU Ombudsman to file the report." The DPS Officer who interviewed me on the phone stated that the student had seen Mr. Peoples, the Ombudsman, before going to the police. My attempt on Tuesday morning to reach Mr. Peoples by phone was unsuccessful and he never returned my call. Nor did he, as far as I know, object to the Police report's statement about him. Only after his role, or apparent role, in the matter was brought forward by me in, did Mr. Peoples dispute the report. Maybe the accuser misstated the truth about Mr. Peoples' advice. If so, why? I certainly had no information to suggest it might not be true until Friday. The only documentary evidence I've seen says the accuser relied on Mr. Peoples' advice but I don't know if this claim of his was true. -Mark Higbee


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Seriously, this is worth news coverage? Mark Higbee is an excellent teacher and cares about his students, the student that falls in sleep in class is the biggest loser. Wake up and learn something from a fantastic teacher.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

My guess is the instructor probably gave the student's foot a purposeful tap to covey the message "wake up". I don't, however, think this qualifies as a "kick" and all the hoopla it has generated. The entitled and probably embarrassed student was probably more than happy to find someone sympathetic to his plight (as in the Ombudsman).


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

I don't understand why any college feels it is their business whether someone sleeps in class or attends it for that matter. This individual is paying for the class, what they do (without disprupting) is their business, this isn't high school. Colleges shouldn't get to factor in attendance for a final grade of someone paying for a class. Maybe they study better reading material, etc.

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 10:36 a.m.

You're right, rrt, colleges shouldn't prepare students for the real life.

Laura Jones

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

Try the University of Phoenix or another 'for profit' school where you are simply 'the customer' and that attitude may have merit.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

Why have grades at all? In fact, maybe we'd all be better served if we just paid a school $100k today, and picked up a diploma four years from now.

John Counts

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

The relevancy of this story seems to be questioned while at the same time generating a lot of debate about classroom behavior, for both instructors and students, and the policies of the university. And that's exactly why it is relevant -- while the incident was minor, it raises larger questions. As my colleague Kyle has pointed out, as a practice, we scour all police reports. When something is officially reported to the police, it is in the realm of public information. Even though the incident seems to be resolved -- the student did not wish to press charges -- it raises these broad questions many of you have brought up. We wouldn't have usually followed up on a brief item like this, but the professor wanted to speak out. If the student wanted to speak out, we would offer him the same courtesy. I have also attempted to contact the ombudsman at EMU to see if he'd like to offer some insight in their procedures. When/if he gets back to me, I will update the story.

Marcus Adams

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

This student is one of my employees. He is very conscientious and exhibits great leadership. Like many EMU students, he has multiple jobs in addition to attending college full-time. As one who also works full-time and attend college full-time I admit that at times I doze in class. One simply gets tired trying to juggle everything. This incident is not newsworthy and I'm curious as to how it (and why) this reporter acts as if this will get him a Pulitzer. Prof. Higbee has taught for a long time and I'm sure that this was not the first student who's dozed in his class or has made a complaint about him. I was cynically moved by his long, impassioned defense of his actions while attempting to assasinate the students character. Unwanted touching can be considered an assault. If charges were pressed, then the court will decide if the touching was "accidental." If asked by the press, Prof. Higbee could have easily said 'no comment," since the matter was handled internally. Such vehenent protest makes one wonder...

Meg An

Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

Marcus- does he doze at work? I've been just as busy as this lazy student and I still manage to respect my professors by being attentive. This idiot just kicked back and fell sleep. Reread the original article! aaparent- Why are you trying to defend this moron? Are you his mom? There is proper classroom etiquette in colleges. He needs to have RESPECT. Did you not read the first article or anything Prof. Higgbee said? This wasn't the first time, it was the fourth time he was late or fell asleep. And I don't remember who said this was not news worthy, but it has become news worthy because it threatens the reputation of a professor. The student filed a false police report (he should be held accountable) and the consequences of his actions could have damaged Higgbee's reputation. I think that's a little news worthy!


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

From the first article "EMU Police Chief Bob Heighes said a student was asleep in a 3 p.m. class in Pray-Harrold Hall Monday with his legs stretched out and a hat pulled down over his eyes. " This is beyond "dozing off." This student planned to fall asleep.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:42 p.m.

Professor Higbee - in 2005 someone posted on your ratemyprofessor ratings (understanding this source is a loose public forum for teacher ratings) that you are strict about not sleeping in class. I agree that it is reasonable and even essential to be strict about students staying awake in class, being prepared for class and fully participating. But are you 100% sure that in your entire career of teaching at EMU or as a grad student at Columbia, a student hasn't dozed off for a moment? I read most of the reviews listed and also read about your work on the emu website. You sound like a professor who takes the course material seriously and have creative methods for teaching. Some of your ratings indicate that other students have found your tone negative or demeaning, which is a shame. It's hard to please everyone. I agree that it is too bad this student was not able to participate fully in the class, but are you sure that when you state your classroom rules or enforce them, that maybe for some students, your tone and manner could be interpreted more provocatively or negatively than you intend? If you are sure that your tone was appropriate, have you considered taking the high road and contacting the student to have a face-to-face conversation about what went wrong in the communication with each other so he can learn about himself? Or is that kind of student help something that is beyond what you think a professor should do? I worked as a tutor with a U-M student several years ago who had a well known science professor and had a clash with this instructor. Although miffed, the professor went well out of his way to help the student, even though the professor really hadn't done anything wrong. It was admirable the professor reached out to help. Now that the police report issue is moot, could you set up a meeting to see if things could get worked out?

Rod Johnson

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

I'm looking for where the "reporter acts as if this will get him a Pulitzer." Can you direct me to that part, please?

Mark H

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

Mr. Adams, I am pleased to read in your post that this student is a fine employee. All I have said about him is to describe his conduct in my class. I don't have any reason to doubt that he is a fine person --- my knowledge of him is limited, and I did not make his behavior in my class a matter of public debate. Nor have I tried to assassinate his character! Everybody gets angry, and mistakes are made. The man was angry in my class and angry at me. Sleeping in my class is a mistake and so is leaving early. Going to the police reporting an "assault" when nothing like assault is a serious mistake, in my judgment, Mr. Adams, but I've expressed not judgment about this student's "character." He made a mistake, and I asserted the facts, but I am not seeking to harm him. His allegations about me are potentially harmful. This student is the first ever to sleep in my class and be woken up by me, and then to be angry, not contrite. I was stunned when DPS called me about the incident. I revealed that it was me that the accusation against because otherwise it seemed that the whole of EMU was being slammed unfairly. I'm an academic -- I believe in disclosing facts, and didn't want the claim that an EMU professor had kicked anybody to go unchallenged. Please note that none of my own words on, or elsewhere, are the kind of blanket condemnations of students or young people generally that so many commentators have shared. Nor have I encouraged in any way the speculation about this student's activities outside of my class. I trust that he is a fine person, and wish him well. Please note, Mr. Adams, I have tried to be fair to this individual (whose identity I've protected) while also defending myself and my University's reputation. EMU has for ages suffered from anonymous charges and rumor-mongering, and I've opposed that conduct in many contexts: how could I not object when it was directed at me? All the best to you and your employee! --

Barb's Mom

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

Marcus, Do you allow him to sleep on the job? Do you allow him to arrive late and leave early?

Laura Jones

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

The mans character and professionalism were both under attack as your employee complained he had been assaulted by this professor. Hmmm, maybe that's a good enough reason? Your 'damned if you do and damned if you don't' is a giant circular route which leads nowhere.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

Now we know why this "student" has no sense of personal responsibility. He gets a sense of entitlement instead, from his "employer." Meanwhile, I wonder what courtroom would accept a stream of money-hungry litigants complaining about "unwanted touching" when the touching was not sexual in nature, nor did it apparently cause injury. Just walk down a school corridor some day - you get bumped every now and then. If you could sue over every bump, it would quickly shut the courts down.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

The student may have been out of line for sleeping and calling police, but Marcus Adams makes good points. You can look up Higbee on ratemyprofessors and although this is hardly an objective rating tool, it seems like the pages of reviews indicates he is professor who provokes strong polarizing reactions from students.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

"it's possible he brushed the student's foot with his own while he was walking past." Yeah, ok, sure. Really who cares? Just flunk the guy and move on.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

For being a non-story, as it were, it certainly has the comments - which makes the story itself the story, I suppose. In an old-fashioned newspaper, I would suspect this would be under 'Human interest'.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

It is relevant to the topic at hand that we all think carefully about why courses (especially at the university level) are offered and whether they are fulfilling their intended purposes based on the ways in which they are being offered. There are many subtle messages sent in how courses are offered that are very relevant to students and also to universities administering those courses. I have had a number of interactions with Gregory Peoples over the years, and in my own interactions with him have found him to be a very principled and caring advocate for students of all backgrounds and a very insightful problem-solver of complex human situations.

Laura Jones

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Overall, I think the entire series of articles has merit. It does matter that a student is advised by a member of the EMU staff to create a potential legal problem for a professor in such circumstances. It makes one wonder why students who sleep are valued more than staff who teach. It further makes one wonder if the EMU Ombudsman has a personal ax to grind or is simply possessed of incredibly poor judgment. In either case, it certainly points out that the Ombudsman is worthy of closer review by the EMU regents. I am not at all sure that this person should be retained by the U. His actions were of benefit to none of the principle actors involved - not the student who has been taught to act like a victim when they are wrong, nor the professor who has been put on notice it is not in his best interests to care at all about the bad behavior of his students lest he find himself in legal hot water.

Robert Granville

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

Love all the commenters who never fell asleep in class.... never mind the fact that humans are rarely ever cognizant of their own microsleeps.


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

This isn't about just falling asleep in class, it's about a person showing complete disregard for his instructor as well as his fellow classmates with his rude, immature behavior. At the very least, he should have apologized when he was awakened, not got loud and mouthy and stomped out of class, running to the ombudsman and police crying victim. What a loser.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

Besides, there's a difference between unintentionally dozing off and kicking back in your chair, sticking your feet out, assuming as nearly as possible a horizontal position, pulling your hat down over your eyes, and konking out. One is a natural thing, the other is a total insult to the prof, the class, the curriculum, and the school. A tired college student may doze, but only a jerk does the other.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Did you read the Professor's explanation...he fell asleep twice, missed on class, arrived late and left defense here...


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

I can't help wondering what Mr. Chips would have done. It's a bad habit of mine.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

Perhaps the student does care for "Black History"?


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

perhaps the student thought it would be a "fluff/easy A" class and was not happy he was expected to listen and participate.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

Non story.Why waste the time?


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

I'd like to know why the replies to Wondering's post were removed? The two I saw, including my own, contained nothing even remotely contrary to the guidelines.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Hi YpsiVet- We typically refer all questions regarding removed comments to the moderation guidelines thread or address them on an individuals basis by e-mail. In this situation the comments were off-topic to the discussion at hand. Please feel free to email me at if you'd like to discuss it further.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

How stupid and indefensible can something be? This so called "student" doesn't belong in a college environment. Send this very sensitive boy back to kindergarten where he can be cuddled and learn about appropriate behavior in a classroom.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

I think he probably slept through kindergarten.

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

This second article is very important to have here to clear the professor's name, but it was made necessary only as follow-up to the premature posting of first article. Also, typically what happens is many of his peers know this same kid and have witnessed the same behavior from him, and so there's likely no threat to his reputation from them. He's more likely to be congratulated by the other professors. Children like the one in this story are usually much more notorious than they think they are, and not in a way that's beneficial to them at all.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Seems to me that if the "student" were kicked, as he claims he was, most everyone else in class would have seen it. Seems to me that people who make up stories about things that didn't happen, then repeat those stories to the police, should be charged with false reporting and made to do five or six hundred hours of community service, plus issue a written apology, publicly, to the person he falsely accused. Also seems like filing a false police report would be a violation of whatever code of student conduct EMU has, and this "student" should be made to explain himself in front of that board.


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

Exactly- Why isn't that happening?


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

I am glad that Prof Higbee has given his side of the story which is really a non-story. If anything the student ought to be booted out of the class. Worse yet, is the person at the school that suggested the malingering student report it. Stupid!


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

If Professor Higbee did not kick him, send him over to me and I'll kick him in the A_ _. And the EMU bureaucrat as well for wasting everyones time!!


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

What a PC sick society we live in. The student will probably sue him for an incident that never happened. I remember being a student and exhausted. I fought so hard to not fall asleep so that i wouldn't offend the professor. This jerk is probably mad for his sleep being disrespected.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

Sheesh. No rumor or misrepresentation that disparages Ypsilanti or EMU is too small to go without notice by the ace reporters from Ann

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Actually, Paula, it seems to me more like the professor felt it necessary to respond to this ridiculous story in order to protect his very valuable reputation. I'm sure the name of the prof was all over twit and facebook long ago, and the prof needed to explain things that didn't include.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

How does this disparage anyone other than the student? It doesn't.

Paula Gardner

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

There's no rumor here. It's a police investigation that's concluded. And something that an instructor thought worthy of publicly discussing.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

On second thought, maybe the professor should have "kicked" him out of class!


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

This "kid" needs to grow up!


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

If the student is so tired that he needs to sleep, he should not come to class and waste the time of everyone in the class. Taxpayers of this state support the university and the ability of the student to attend class; the student's tuition is only part of the cost of his education. Maybe if he sleeps in other classes in the future, he should have to pay back the proportion of the states cost of his education? Let's get real here; the student flat out should not be in class if he has to sleep! Go home! Let's put the responsibility where it belongs - on the student! From what has been written, this isn't the first problem the student has had in this class. The student need to GROW UP! Add to it the cost of calling the university police to his tab as well! Filing a false police report should also be part of the cost that this disruptive student should have to pay for; and it may also be a criminal offense to file a false police report for which the student should have to serve time!


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

OK, we know the prof's name, how about the student's? It would seem that if he filed a complaint that would be a matter of public record. I have $5 that says "student athelete".

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

I have $5.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Craig, I'm not going to post his name, but I was just curious. I think this student has wasted a lot of time and resources, maybe he's just looking for his 15 minutes.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

" BTW, can any commenter post his name here, without that comment being deleted?" As one who frequently gets deleted, I would say the chances of that post staying up are as close to zero as you can get.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

I have $5 that says a lot of students at EMU already know his name, thanks to Facebook/Twitter. I have a student at EMU. BTW, can any commenter post his name here, without that comment being deleted?

Andrea Zastrow

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

I have $5 that says if his name is released that he's going to have a hard time getting a job at some point in his future.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

I had a few classes I slept in regularly. I didn't however snore or do anything else disruptive.....and I always had work for class done. Profs don't care when you sleep...IF you're already a good student.

Rod Johnson

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

As a "prof" I can tell you that we do indeed care. Some of us are more resigned than others, but I can tell you that our esteem for people who "regularly" sleep in classes is pretty low. Don't look for a strong letter of recommendation, that's for sure.

Laura Jones

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

Rapport? Are you so sure, or perhaps that is simply how you have interpreted their indifference to your presence awake or asleep. It is ill mannered behavior towards the professor and your fellow students, regardless of your feelings about yourself.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

My I detect a bit o' jealousy? Get mad because I managed to have a rapport with my professors that allowed me to do things like sleep in class. Get all your homework...and take part in class discussions....and you get to take naps in class. Provided you don't snore...


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

You sound so proud of yourself and sort of smug about this. Some would give their eye teeth to get the chance to be in that classroom instead of working a dead end job somewhere.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

Why would anyone give a crap if someone accidentally or on purpose kicked someone on the shoe? Better hurry over to one of the middle schools! I hear there is name calling going on every day.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

Do you think it made the news because it was EMU.....just an observation.......


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

The bigger "story" here is that we now have a 2nd article about this nonsense!


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

"given that it was reported as an assault, we felt some urgency to discover what had happened" Give us a break! You are spinning this non story more than the Presidential candidates.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Paula...That's not much to build two stories out of, is it? Someone said something happened. They dropped it. End of story. You have to work a bit to make something out of it. It's a waste story, esp. since Prof. Higbee had to take time to defend his good name because of the coverage. At Michigan, I had a prof in a summer class who was getting snotty comments from one clown. Finally, he told him to stop or he would have to leave. The kid didn't stop, and he wouldn't leave. I offered to help the kid find the door, but the prof said he could handle it, and he did. (It's called the bum's rush.) Two or three days later, the prof said the the student was no longer with the University. Come on, people, this is a university. and others in the class deserve the chance to get an education without returning to eighth grade with some doofus.

Paula Gardner

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

Here's the original incident report, in case you're curious about what prompted all of this. Case number 120007217 Nature of crime Assault/ Battery/Simple (Incl Domestic and Police This crime was reported on 9/17/2012 at 18:11 hours. This crime occurred at PRAY HARROLD on 9/17/2012 15:00 Brief Description: Student alledges that Professor kicked him This case closed on 9/19/2012

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

Per the post from Mark Higbee: " This was at the fourth class meeting, and the second class he had slept in. He'd missed the first class, and arrived late twice, and left early twice." If that is accurate any possible culpability on Higbee is gone IMO. Its all on the student. Keep in mind this is a small, 20 student class, not a big lecture hall auditorium with 150 students.

J. Zarman

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:49 a.m.

What is the police report description, from various other students who witnessed the physical contact, which Prof. Higbee terms "accidental"?

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

actually the professor denies any physical contact occurred.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

Sleeping in class! Check out his night life. Up late for parties, to many classes, not an interest to the class!

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

Probably in a frat.

Paula Gardner

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

Thanks to Mark Higbee for adding his perspective to this incident. In our newsroom, we very, very rarely see police complaints made on college campuses that involve instructors. I can't recall the last one. This caught our attention because of that - and, given that it was reported as an assault, we felt some urgency to discover what had happened. The details as provided by EMU police surprised us further - and I think it's interesting to hear this instructor's perspective. On a personal note, when I consider this story I'm also remembering an incident in a college classroom when a fellow student turned verbally abusive toward an instructor. I watched that instructor handle the situation very, very well. I'm also sure that person did not file a police report. I view this story as insight into what an instructor has to deal with and consider - stepping in front of a dozen or more random students is usually about education, but the instructors can be put into situations they wouldn't expect that go far beyond class material. I don't know that anyone would expect to have to answer a police officer's questions after waking a student in class.

Barb's Mom

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

Paula, Did the professor contact the paper or did the reporter call the Professor to get his side of the story? If the reporter called the Professor, then you are to blame for putting his name out there. If it was a non issue, you shouldn't have reported on it in the first place.

Paula Gardner

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Both the student and the professor were not named in the initial story, which is our typical practice when we write about police reports. Normally neither would now be named - there are no charges filed, so the student's name is not being reported. However, the instructor decided that he wanted to talk about the incident. In many cases, that doesn't happen. That's one reason there's more detailed follow up - and also a reason that I thanked him for being willing to offer his insight.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

Ms. Gardner, the paper chose to public the professor's name, unnecessarily in my opinion, but not the student's? Why? The student is not a victim of anything, especially since the paper reported no interest in pursuing the matter, and the police report is a matter of public record. The student's name should be published if you are going to continue to publish the professor's name.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Perhaps a follow up story interviewing the ombudsman, seeing why a police report was filed, and interviewing other ombudsman at other campuses to see if they have had similar complaints and handled them similarly would be interesting...


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

Professor HIgbee - the fact that you are justifying your behavior in the newspaper says something about your inability to reflect on your own behavior. Wouldn't this be more simply resolved if you contacted the Ombudsman at EMU, your department chair and any other relevant EMU staff members and the student and apologized for your role in whatever happened. The student fell sleep in your class and was disengaged. There are other students at EMU, Harvard, Cornell, University of Michigan, etc. who fell asleep this week in lecture and I imagine there are professors at those schools who handled this unfortunate but not uncommon situation by either going on with the lecture and ignoring the student -- or going the extra mile and reaching out to the student to ask why they continue to sleep in your class. In my opinon, if your student is disengaged, it is something that should interest you as an educator, not offend you.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 3:57 a.m.

aa you are way out of line making these assertions. The kid should be prosecuted for filing a false police report and then forced to serve in the military in a war zone. Lets see how "disengaged" he becomes on thge battlefield.


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

unusual suspect, sorry I accidentally hit the down button. I agree with you that aaparent is wrong.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

aaparent, how much further is Professor Higbee supposed to go? He is available to his students through office hours and by appointment, he takes time to put together lessons to illustrate and explain important points and events and regularly holds his classes. At what age do we stop excusing rude behavior in a classroom as being a problem with an instructor? It seems to me an average high school student should know what is acceptable classroom behavior. If your comment is not tongue in cheek, then it is the attitudes of parents like you that is hurting the education of all students.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

Are you serious? Your disconnection from reality and logic makes it pointless to respond further. Look at your voter score.

Laura Jones

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

aaparent: Your entire post is hilarious! I actually spit my coffee out and got half a mouthful up my nose! I thought you were joking until the lack of sneer at the end. Your statement may be the best representative position of what many folks (myself included) think is wrong with many parental attitudes towards education, students, expectations of behavior by students and above all else, personal responsibility. Worst of all, I believe it damages students most of all - there is nothing there which speaks of helping oneself by being responsible and taking your education seriously. Successful adults must be willing to meet life a little more than half way.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

aaparent, you are just assuming the prof was offended, and no one is entitled to the kind of consideration you are suggesting this student should have received unless they earn it. Especially someone who has displayed this kind of obvious disregard for others, and someone with the behavior history it seems this kid has. Also, why on earth should the professor apologize. Why aren't you suggesting the student should apologize?


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.

You are just guessing that he was disengaged, so really you're doing the same thing you complained that others are doing - making a judgement without the facts. I think the professors comments were truthful and professional. He could have slammed this kid with negative comments and he chose not to. I don't agree that you have the "right" to fall asleep in class just because you pay tuition. That kind of attitude is what is tearing this country apart. Not only can I do something disrespectful, but then I can get the person who called me out on it in trouble. Student was wrong. Clear and simple. BTW- I've had to read the article several times to see why you think the professor handled the situation poorly and I just don't see it.

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

aaparent, I don't believe the user "Mark" that you just responded to is the professor. His earlier post has the username, "Mark H." Just FYI. And you're wrong, by the way.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.

Professor Higbee - I agree that students should not expect special treatment or behave in an entitled way. I also believe professors should not see themselves as so special and fragile that a sleeping student invokes anger displayed in front of the class. I think this is a classroom discipline situation that got out of hand and a shame a police report was filed if the claim is false. If this claim is false, I hope that your reputation as a good professor at EMU and your popularity with other students will allow this incident to be closed and put aside.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

Students have a responsibility to act like adults, not spoiled brats. Some people gat away with never being held accountable for their behavior and it gets passed off as being "special." So what happens when in a situation when they are not so special? It must be somebody else's fault. Nope.

The Black Stallion3

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

Oh Please.....stop trying to be an apologizer....I commend this professor and would suggest he never apologize for a student that is trying to cause trouble for his own bad attitude.

Heather Soloman

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:07 a.m.

I had a class with Professor Higbee and I never noticed ANYTHING inappropriate during the semester. He is a dedicated teacher who just wants his students to pay attention to the lessons he is trying to teach them. He is very engaging in his lectures and while I had gone to his lectures tired, I never fallen asleep in one.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:06 a.m.

How did this non-incident make the news,

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

Kyle...I feel like I read this somewhere before.

Kyle Feldscher

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

northside, I posted this in response to Cash's comment above, but I will repost here. This incident was listed on the EMU Police blotter, which is updated every day. As a regular part of what John and I do, we keep up to date on what's reported on these blotters and call on things we think are interesting or seem major. The description for this incident was simply listed as "Student alleges that a professor kicked him." I wanted more information on this, because obviously that is not something we see every day, and called Chief Heighes to talk about it. Chief Heighes has been open with me about what is in police reports and willing to answer my questions. If you would like to see the full reports for both the U-M Police and EMU Police, here are the links to their blotters. U-M: EMU:

Mark H

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:55 a.m.

The student didn't "immediately" leave the class, as he had a few choice words to say first and it took him a while to gather his belongings. This was at the fourth class meeting, and the second class he had slept in. He'd missed the first class, and arrived late twice, and left early twice. All that was quite disruptive to his classmates' education. He was, sadly, disengaged in his education. Sadly, the University Ombudsman Greg Peoples, who's supposed to help students, instead of aiding the student with his real issues, unwisely chose to encourage the student to escalate the dispute by filing an "assault" complaint with the EMU Police. The complaint was absurd. I hope he moves on and draws the appropriate lessons from this pointless dispute. I did not tell the reporter Mr. Counts that he was transferring to another history class and I don't know if that is true. EMU students are overwhelmingly attentive and very serious about learning, and they are treated respectfully by their faculty! This kicking / sleeping story wrongly suggests otherwise. Police reports lead to press attention, but this was a small episode blown up by one angry person and one EMU bureaucrat. I sympathize fully with those commentators who deplore the fact the professional EMU Police were needlessly compelled to spend time on such a obviously non-police matter. Too bad that the angry student was denied the useful guidance he should have gotten at the first EMU office he went to after leaving my class. Nonetheless, EMU is a great school for learning, and my faculty colleagues and our students know this! --- Mark Higbee, Professor of History, Eastern Michigan University


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

correction...*you're* out.


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

I go by the 3 strikes your out rule. Two times being tardy, two times leaving early and 2 times falling asleep is double what should be allowed before being dropped from the class.

John Counts

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

Hi Mark: Thanks for providing even more details about this. On a side note, the line about the student transferring to another class was information from the previous story when the police chief said the student simply wanted to switch to another class.

Laura Jones

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

Hey; How about a story on Eastern University Ombudsman Greg Peoples and why he thought it was necessary to advise the student to make an assault complaint? I would very much like to know that information, along with his credentials and past experience. His paid guidance has wasted a lot of money and created the appearance of a hostile work environment for teachers at EMU, with respect to student discipline. That would be worth reading and show some investigative reporting!


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

Just googled Greg Peoples, I am beginning to wonder if there was an agenda in telling the student to report this to police. that's all i'm saying...


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

Good for you, Professor. I agree with those that say this is just another example of the "victim mentality". Keep up the good work and EMU should be proud to have someone like you on staff.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

Thank you for filling out this story. When I read the second story it was apparent that there was more to this than was reported. He is lucky that he was not in my sixth grade class with Mr. Wagonlander. He would have been spanked in front of the whole class and NO ONE would have reported it.

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

Mark, you handled it perfectly. I wish some instructors had done that to me when I was that age and falling asleep in class.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:09 a.m.

Thank you Professor Higbee for providing these details. It sounds like the Ombudsman, Greg Peoples, needs some training in conflict resolution. The first impulse should not be calling the police. Ridiculous!

tom swift jr.

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:54 a.m.

Wow, not only was the original event not "news" (by any stretch of the definition of the word), we have a SECOND article about it? I suspect a closer look at the police blotter, the minutes of the Board and Reagent Meetings of our local educational institutions, or a quick walk down Main street could find something more worthy of "reporting".


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 2:55 a.m.

Well, after all there are two sides to every story and good reporting reports both sides. I would not want to spend the next couple of weeks wondering how all this turned out.....


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

It got you to read twice and comment on it at least once. They'll print what sells, so to speak.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:52 a.m.

I hate to even give this any attention but really, I do wonder why it was even reported to the media. Do all police depts release all activity even if there's no crime involved? I guess it is good news if all of our local campuses were crime free this week and this was the only incident they had to report. Is that the case?


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 2:53 a.m.

The crime blogs Kyle refers to are listings of criminal activity reported to campus police departments. The disclosure of all crimes reported to campus police is a requirement of the federal Clery Act. With assaults, contact is not always an assault. Many people reports contacts as assaults, however an element of assault is intent to injure. If a contact does not rise to that level it may be rude but not an assault. In this case, the Prof. would have had to really put a punt on this young man for it to rise to the level of an assault.


Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 2:05 a.m.

Cash, when we first moved here from Indiana to Michigan, we lived in Chelsea. I was reading the Police Report in the Chelsea Standard...the crime of the day. A man had been caught eating 7 grapes by an employee at Polly's. Polly's pressed charges.

Kyle Feldscher

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Cash- This incident was listed on the EMU Police blotter, which is updated every day. As a regular part of what John and I do, we keep up to date on what's reported on these blotters and call on things we think are interesting or seem major. The description for this incident was simply listed as "Student alleges that a professor kicked him." I wanted more information on this, because obviously that is not something we see every day, and called Chief Heighes to talk about it. Chief Heighes has been open with me about what is in police reports and willing to answer my questions. If you would like to see the full reports for both the U-M Police and EMU Police, here are the links to their blotters. U-M: EMU:

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:44 a.m.

Cash, you've around been here long enough to know the answer to that, but I give you credit for being nice and not saying it.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:17 a.m.

"I hate to give this any attention, BUT..."


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:07 a.m. microscopic, highly critical coverage of public education. And little else.

Paul Barron

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:45 a.m.

Students fall asleep in class for lots of reasons. Maybe he works in addition to taking classes. There seems like an automatic assumption that he doesn't have a willingness to learn because of this--how about being sure of the circumstances before making assumptions?


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

i never fell asleep and I worked and went to school full time. i was exhausted but not a rude jerk.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

Your comment is insulting to those of us who held jobs (sometimes more than one) and graduated successfully without ever falling asleep during class. Have a coffee and buck up.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

No offense Paul, but I worked 2 jobs (to put myself through school with no aid), got up every morning at 0600 to workout/run and partied like a rock star when I went to and Graduated from EMU and I am here to tell you that I NEVER fell asleep in class. This includes the semester that I took 24credit hours ( I became very good at getting by while sleep deprived that semester), LOL I was paying my way and had too much time, money and energy invested not to pay attention and learn.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

Paul and aaparent, this kind of thinking exemplifies and promotes a victim mentality that is healthy for no one. The student needs to man up.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

I agree with this because the student is not Professor Higbee's employee as a student in his class, but a college student paying tuition or on scholarship and is not performing in class because he is sleeping. It is wrong to sleep in class and most students do not. This student was sleeping in class, not on the job, and Professor Higbee had the option to handle this in several ways. He chose to handle it by approaching the student, raising his voice and from the description in the news article, trying to both wake him and embarrass him in front of his peers. Then from what is written in the story, it seems the student was upset, escalated the situation and things blew up from there. The student was wrong for sleeping and disrespectful, but Professor Higbee had a choice in how to handle the situation and I think if he he could have handled it in a more constructive way. Maybe his ego got in the way and he reacted emotionally to someone having the nerve to fall asleep in his lecture.

The Black Stallion3

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:24 a.m.

This student should go far in the real world.......disgusting !!