York investigates TA for Facebook comments

Tutorial assistant wrote ‘My student’s papers are making me dumber’


York University is investigating a tutorial assistant who made disparaging comments about her student’s intelligence on Facebook. According to campus paper the Excalibur, the status update from sociology TA Bianca Baggiarini, read in part: “My student’s papers are making me dumber, so very stupid; by the minute. Please, make them, stop.” Posted on Feb. 22, the comments have since been taken down.

One of the students from Baggiarini’s tutorial told the paper that he was surprised. “It’s definitely not professional mixing work with Facebook, because that is public,” he said. Another student said that “If she assumes that there is an issue – I mean, clearly the TA assumed there was an issue by calling [the students] stupid – and the TA obviously has the opinion that her class is not understanding or really getting it, then I think the remedy should be ‘I’m here to help’ not ‘I’m going to post it on Facebook.”

Sociology chair, Nancy Mandell, whose department is investigating the matter, said that she was “disappointed.” The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents TAs at York, does not have a policy on social media, and would not comment on the specifics of the case.

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York investigates TA for Facebook comments

  1. Personally, I think this is absolutely none of the university’s business. It’s entirely likely that the TA is as professional as anyone else in class and in her marking, and that she does enjoy her work. She didn’t quote a paper or single out names, she merely complained to her friends in an informal and supposedly private forum; clearly she never intended it to get back to her students. Private frustration is part and parcel of a TA’s (gruelling) job description, and I think the university (and the student paper, and this article) violated her privacy here.

  2. Wow, this is such a non-issue. She didn’t name anyone specific, and directed the comment towards friends on facebook. And knowing sociology York undergraduate students, she was probably right.

  3. i don’t agree with these two previous comments. if students get suspended or expelled for criticizing t.a’s or york why can’t a t.a be punished for the same thing. facebook is NOT a private network it is a social network therefore everyone can see it, she was not obviously thinking when she posted this, if she did she would have privatized her facebook so no one but her friends would be able to see it. Also this is a very big issue in my opinion because it makes self conscious students feel even more self conscious when in classes, they are obviously not going to want to speak in tutorials anymore that’s for sure or at least i know i wouldn’t want to be made a joke by my t.a and his/her friends.

    • @r: Do you have any evidence that York has suspended students for criticizing TAs? Or for criticizing the university? I’d love to see a link for that claim, because I suspect you made it up. Students anonymously evaluate TAs and then anonymously slander then on RateMyProfessor.com, and I’ve never heard of one of them being suspended for such.

      In other news, the TA’s Facebook page *was* private. The release of those comments required a personal betrayal by someone who was not her student.

  4. judging by the comments…what the students are saying, and what the media’s saying I agree with the T.A. Suck it up.

  5. Wow, this T.A must be stupid herself for posting that on her facebook in the first place. W/e its Sociology….haha. The only thing I see is her going any further in teaching! This is probably going to stick with her forever.

  6. Wait, when have students been expelled or suspended for criticizing York or its TAs? There would be a lot more students being expelled if that were actually the case.

    Seriously though, the comment made by the TA was pretty tame. It would be more problematic if she had referred to any student in particular. Perhaps she shouldn’t make these kinds of comments on facebook, and my guess is she won’t in the future. But it’s seriously not that big a deal; these comments are rampant in private discussions amongst TAs, and she just made the mistake of treating a semi-public forum as a private one.

    And if you’re going to say something like “teachers shouldn’t be making these comments in private either, they should be caring more about their students’ learning…” then you should get real. A lot of the time, you try to teach people who aren’t interested in engaging with your teaching, and despite your best efforts, seem to learn nothing by the time essay writing comes along. Frustration is inevitable, and TAs are people too.

  7. Everyone shares their private thoughts on Facebook and it was probably meant as a joke. What this really means is that Big Brother is now following you on Facebook!

  8. I don’t get what’s so wrong with Sociology? Those making assumptions probably have never taken a course before!

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