The VSU police department is still investigating the battery charges against a mass media professor after he allegedly assaulted a student.
Assistant professor, Dr. Frank Rybicki, is on paid suspension until the investigation is finished. After that, decisions will be made as to whether or not he can continue teaching at VSU.
“I haven’t heard anything yet,” he said. “It’s just kind of a wait and see situation.”
Many of Dr. Rybicki’s students are supporting him. Some have generated petitions to show their support.
Brittany Briscoe, junior mass media major, collected 100 signatures of additional support from her peers.
She then made copies of the signed petition and distributed them to VSU officials including VSU president, Dr. Patrick Schloss.
“I was not trying to collect a huge number of signatures,” Briscoe said. “I simply wanted to get a nice, whole number that would justly represent the student support for Dr. Rybicki.”
Last week’s article in the Spectator regarding the incident has recorded over 26,000 hits on vsuspectator.com, and the issue has received national attention through the Huffington Post, Forbes, TIMES NewsFeed, and USA Today.
There have also been nearly 80 comments on the website, mostly in support of Dr. Rybicki.
“It’s very nice and satisfying to see I have support from students and so many others,” he said.
But The Spectator wasn’t the only one receiving comments in support of Dr. Rybicki; he was receiving many in his own inbox.
“I got tons of emails,” Dr. Rybicki said. “I had one start out as ‘God bless you sir’ from a guy who was in a similar position.”
Dr. Rybicki would not comment on the actual incident. He was told not to talk about personnel issues to outsiders.
“And I don’t consider my students to be outsiders,” he said. “I feel this (commenting) is a way for me to express my gratitude for their support.”
Rybicki was told not to speak with other professors, and they were asked not to speak to him, Dr. Rybicki said. This makes things difficult on the professors and students because Dr. Rybicki has all his students’ grades and information about the classes he is teaching.
“I feel terrible [about leaving the class in the middle of the semester],” he said. “It puts everyone (students and those taking care of the classes) in a tough position.”
The ordeal began with an incident that occurred in his 10 a.m. law class March 25.
According to the original incident report, Krista Bowman, a mass media major, went to the VSU Police Department to report an assault involving a faculty member in the mass media building.
The altercation occurred when Dr. Rybicki allegedly closed a laptop computer on the hands of Bowman, said Dorsena Drakeford, another student in the class and Spectator sports editor.
Dr. Rybicki closed the laptop because he thought Bowman was on non-class related websites.
Bowman then began to argue with Dr. Rybicki about closing the laptop and about the websites she visited while in class. Class was dismissed early because Dr. Rybicki seemed upset by the incident, Drakeford said.
Dr. Rybicki, was arrested March 30, according to the VSUPD.
He was then freed on bail later that afternoon, according to the Lowndes County Sheriff Department.
Dr. Rybicki has high hopes about the situation though.
“I hope this all gets cleared up to business as usual,” Dr. Rybicki said.
Trevor Smith contributed to this report.