The UTRGV Police Department is investigating a case in which a professor allegedly slapped a student during a class discussion last month on the Edinburg campus.
“As far as what was reported to us, during the lecture, a student was slapped by a professor as he was giving the lecture,” UTRGV Police Chief Raul Munguia said. “Apparently, from my understanding, the intent of the professor was to, was making a point. However, unless you prearranged with the person, that can be problematic.”
No charges have been filed. From what was reported to the department, “it appears that it falls under a Class C, simple assault,” the chief said.
“As I understand, he is still employed,” he said. “The professor, from my understanding, is … on administrative paid leave at this time.”
Munguia said it appears the case will be under investigation for a few weeks.
“At this point, there has been follow-ups; charges have not been filed as of yet,” Munguia said. “We have offered the student an opportunity to go and file and for us to go with the student to the court in power. That has not occurred yet.”
The Rider requested a copy of the offense report and received an incident report that did not provide the name of the professor or student. The newspaper then requested the supplemental report and follow-up but Munguia said he was not going to release it because the case is under investigation.
“If an incident is under investigation, we don’t release it, even if an open records request is made of it, we don’t release it,” the police chief said. “What we end up doing, if we get an open records request, we’ll send it back to the attorney general and tell them, ‘This is why we don’t want to release it.’”
The Rider called UTRGV President Guy Bailey for comment on the case but as of press time Thursday, he had not returned calls.
The newspaper contacted Patrick Gonzales, assistant vice president of University Marketing and Communications at UTRGV, for assistance in reaching Bailey.
At 10:37 p.m. Thursday, Gonzales texted the following to The Rider: “We can not provide further comment at this
time. And while there isn’t a written policy, it is standard procedure for the university not to discuss the investigation publicly to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
Ala Qubbaj, UTRGV vice provost for Faculty Affairs and Diversity, said the university’s priority is the safety of the students.
“I’m not talking about any specific incident but, usually, when there are incidents of the nature you are asking about, usually, these are taken on a case-by-case basis and the first thing we keep in mind, you know, is the safety of the student,” Qubbaj said. “Sometimes, while … the university is investigating the situation, we find it in the best interest of the faculty member and the student to put the faculty member on administrative leave, so that things will be clear and we could come down to the facts and investigate the situation. Again, it depends on the situation, it depends on the case. It’s taken on a case-by-case basis.”
Asked what students can do if they have an issue, Qubbaj replied they can send the complaint via the Vaquero Care Report It Form, which is available at utrgv.edu/reportit.
Students are encouraged to consult with Student Rights and Responsibilities staff to discuss the options available to the student in filing a complaint. A student may choose to proceed using either the informal resolution process or the formal process to resolve their complaint.
Douglas Stoves, associate dean of students for Student Rights and Responsibilities, said every complaint received by
the SRR office is taken seriously.
“With all of our cases, whenever we get a case or a complaint in, we start to engage on an investigative process,” Stoves said. “Sometimes that resides with our office; sometimes it gets referred to another office to do the investigation. Regardless of how a complaint comes in … we start looking into any complaint that comes into our office. How it ultimately gets resolved has a lot of different factors in it.”