College apologises after lecturers overheard insulting students

One GMIT lecturer felt like ‘drilling her teeth’ because student ‘painful’ to listen to

The president of Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) said apologies would be issued directly to the students concerned. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

The president of Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) said apologies would be issued directly to the students concerned. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

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Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) has apologised to students after two lecturers forgot to switch their cameras off after watching virtual presentations, and were overheard using offensive and insulting language to describe what they had seen.

Students at the college who had just made online presentations could hear the two lecturers discuss their work and allocate marks as their connections remained live. One of the lecturers referred to a student as “that f**king [name]” and speculated that there was “something wrong with” a female student, while the other said she felt like “drilling [her] teeth” because one of them was “so painful to be listening to”.

“I thought that f**king [name], I thought he’d never – and he’s sick, that lad – I didn’t like to, and eventually I said I have to do something, and he still didn’t stop,” said one of the lecturers.

“I couldn’t take much more of them anyway, I was exhausted,” the other responded. “[Name] wasn’t too bad, I thought he was interesting, he was looking at the camera,” they continued. “But the other fella [a different student’s name], I thought I’d have to get a drill and start drilling my teeth, they were so painful to be listening to.”

At one point, the lecturers appeared to speculate whether a female student may have a disability. “Has [student’s name] something wrong with her?” one of them asked.

“Funny, I was thinking that,” the other replied. “I was saying, before I make a decision on voice and body language, she was so slow speaking that I was wondering… I thought the very same thing – I thought I’d better check Access to see if she’s on the list some place for something.”

Access is a computer system used by colleges to record relevant background information on students, and would contain details of disabilities or special needs where relevant.

A recording of the conversation, which is understood to have taken place last week, has been shared extensively on messaging applications such as Snapchat and WhatsApp.

The footage appears to have been recorded by the student who was described as “so painful to be listening to” that one of the lecturers considered drilling her own teeth.

Dr Orla Flynn, president of GMIT, said that apologies would be issued directly to the students concerned. “I would like to wholeheartedly apologise to our students for the data breach that has caused such deep hurt and dismay,” she said.

“GMIT is known as a student-centred institute and some of the comments made by our staff do not reflect the values to which we aspire. “We are taking the breaches of GMIT policies and data protection legislation very seriously. Apologies will be issued to the students directly concerned.”

GMIT Students’ Union President Victor O’Loughlin said that the incident is currently being investigated by the student body. He described it as “disappointing” but declined to comment further.

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