U of G prof accused of mocking anxious student responds to allegations

​A University of Guelph professor who was put on a leave of absence after students allege he mocked and humiliated one of his classmates has responded to those allegations.

A new professor has been hired to teach anthropology class, say students

The University of Guelph is investigating claims made by students about a professor who allegedly made controversial comments to a student and his educational assistant in a class Monday night. (University of Guelph)

A University of Guelph professor who was put on a leave of absence after students allege he mocked and humiliated one of their classmates has responded to the allegations.

"There's two sides to every story," said Edward Hedican, who students identified as the substitute professor who allegedly referred to a student's educational assistant as his "handler" who "needed to control" the student in a class Monday night.

Hedican's statement was made to The Canadian Press on Wednesday.

Hedican declined to comment on the specifics of the incident and said his union cautioned him not to make any statements to the press.

Hedican put on leave of absence

"There was no physical contact here, there's no sexual interaction, there's a verbal altercation that happened in class. And I'll just leave it at that," he said.

Hedican was put on a leave of absence Tuesday morning after students claimed Hedican, who was filling in for their usual professor, made disrespectful comments to a student, who has "severe anxiety," while an aid worker was at his side.

The incident was posted online in a Facebook group called Overheard at Guelph.

"Overshocked and Overthanked: THANK YOU to the girl in ANTH 1150 who stood up to Ed Hedican for disrespecting a boy in our class, who has severe anxiety, and the boy's aid," Regan Devlin said in a Facebook post that now has more than 100 comments and nearly 2,000 likes.

'Unprofessional and rude'

"Hedican attempted to ridicule him and questioned if he was even enrolled in the class in front of hundreds of students."

​"He was completely insensitive, unprofessional and rude," she said in the post.

An incident involving a University of Guelph professor making rude comments to a student and his aid worker have garnered hundreds of comments online. (Facebook)

Courtney Orser, a third-year student who was in the class, told CBC K-W that Hedican singled out the student multiple times in front of the of nearly 600 people. 

In one instance, the student was playing with gum, and Hedican stopped the class  to tell the student to stop, saying he was a distraction, Orser said.

She said the student responded by telling professor about his anxiety, which is why he was playing with his gum.

Hedican, she said, responded by telling the student his actions were annoying.

She said professor's comments made her "furious" and she couldn't stand to be in the class.

New professor hired

As she stood up to leave in the middle of Hedican's lecture, Orser defended her classmate, who she said left the class with his aid worker both visibly upset.

In a now deleted video of Orser's defence of her fellow student, she said, "I don't like to stay in classes where people who pay just as much tuition as I do get treated like that."

People can be heard clapping in the video, and Orser said many of the students walked out of class, including the usual professor's teaching assistant.

University of Guelph provost and vice president Charolette Yates said she finds this situation troubling and is taking the matter seriously, but the University of Guelph would not confirm the identity of the professor or if he was tenured.

Students said on Facebook that they have been notified a new professor has been hired to teach their class, which the university has confirmed with CBC News.

A representative from University of Guelph said because the professor has been placed on leave, "arrangements have been made to have the courses taught by another faculty member during this period."

With files from The Canadian Press