ECPD escorts student to class after argument

by Beacon Staff • March 28, 2007

and sometimes abrasive sense of humor. Last month, his humor began to disrupt

class and antagonize his professor, Victoria LoCascio, according to Banta.One female classmate, who spoke on the condition she remain anonymous, said Banta cursed at the professor, but not in a threatening or serious way.,Joshua Banta's classmates describe him as a smart student with a sarcastic

and sometimes abrasive sense of humor. Last month, his humor began to disrupt

class and antagonize his professor, Victoria LoCascio, according to Banta.

One female classmate, who spoke on the condition she remain anonymous, said Banta cursed at the professor, but not in a threatening or serious way."That was just Josh trying to see what he could get away with," she said. "He liked to try to fluster her in a sarcastic way."

Banta said his relationship with LoCascio soured after a Feb. 12 argument

regarding the professor's extra-credit policy. A week later, after two uneventful class periods, Banta was asked to leave the room at the beginning of class and was escorted to a meeting with Ludman by three Emerson College Police Department (ECPD) officers.

During the unofficial meeting, Banta was told by the Dean not to attend the class' next meeting. When Banta was allowed back into class on Feb. 23, he was under conspicuous supervision by ECPD officers. During the following class period, an officer accompanied him into class and sat in the back row.

Banta said in a telephone interview the supervision was embarrassing and punitive. "Basically, the scare tactics worked," he said. "I'm afraid I'll get kicked out of class if I speak my mind as freely as other people in the class."

The initial argument took place after class when Banta asked LoCascio, an Organizational and Political Communication professor, if he could earn extra credit. No other students were present when the argument took place, and later, when Ludman questioned Banta about the incident, the student disputed some of the professor's allegations regarding the argument.

"The bottom line is there was a difference of opinion," Banta said, "but it was very confusing for me to understand what I was being accused of."

LoCascio and Police Chief William McCabe both declined to comment on the issue.

Students said after Banta was removed from class on Feb. 19, she told them she didn't feel comfortable in the class, but did not mention Banta.

"She told us, 'You should understand a professor doesn't have to come to work if she doesn't feel safe,'" said another female student who also requested anonymity.She and other classmates asked not to be identified or refused to comment because they fear being the only student to comment on the story.

After Banta missed class on Feb. 21, Ludman gave him a choice: either attend the class with an ECPD escort or drop the course without failing. On Feb. 23, he returned to class with an ECPD officer who sat in the class. On Feb. 25, Banta said he saw an officer waiting for him outside of class, and after the next class period, students said they again saw an ECPD officer.

The first female classmate said the show of force appeared to be unnecessary."The fact that three or four cops came to collect him seemed excessive," she said. "If something

was going to happen, I think it would've happened by then. It didn't seem that dire a situation."

Banta's classmates say his conduct has been noticeably more disciplined since he was removed from class. One male student, who also asked to remain anonymous, said he felt the new classroom dynamic was an improvement.

"He used to be disruptive just for the sake of being disruptive, it was like, 'What are you doing?" he said. "Now he participates in every discussion and the class is better. He's still the same Josh, just without the disruptions. It's been a good change."

Banta, however, said he still feels he has to be careful with what he says and how he says it in class.

"Speech class has taught me a lot more about free speech than it has about public speaking," he said.