News and Analysis

Thursday, May 2, 2013 1:08 p.m.

Student’s mother suing professor, University for $150,000

The mother of a student is suing the University and a philosophy professor for $150,000 – claiming the professor emotionally and verbally abused her daughter and lied about her academic performance.

The mother filed a complaint April 19 in D.C. Superior Court claiming that her daughter suffered “loss, detriment, injury and torture” as a result of associate professor Eric Saidel’s bullying.

She claims Saidel bullied and misguided her daughter throughout the spring of 2011 when she took a logic class as part of the School Without Walls Early College Program. After graduating with that program’s first cohort in 2011, the student is now enrolled at the University.

Saidel declined to comment on the litigation.

The complainant is also suing Saidel’s employer: the philosophy department, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the University. University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard declined to comment because the litigation is pending.

The daughter, who was a minor at the time of the incident, first told her mother she was “troubled” on February 24, 2011, according to the court documents.

The mother claims Saidel created an “environment of deception” for her daughter, who received an “F” for the course despite the professor’s assurances she was “performing really well.” The mother asserts that her daughter’s grade was not “consistent with her academic ability.”

The complaint accuses Saidel of seeking to “gain power and control” over the daughter by “inflicting fear tactics relative to the teacher and student relationship.”

She also alleges Saidel “ridiculed and mocked” her daughter for not studying with a tutor recommended by him, who he said would give her a “better advantage.”

The mother, who receives Medicaid benefits and has been unemployed since February 2011, was granted permission from the judge to avoid court-related fees. She is representing herself in the case.

  • Pat

    This lawsuit is so ridiculous! I mean, seriously, she is suing for $150,000 because of the pain her daughter felt after getting an F? Sounds like they are desperate to make money.

    I also think its unfair that we only get to know the name of the professor and not the accuser. Seems a bit outrageous to me.

    If a student got an F, he or she must have really not been doing any work. It is harder to get an F than an A.

  • uh?

    Has been unemployed for a year… sues because her daughter gets an F… seems legit to me.

  • Zac Morris

    I think you folks are missing the “was a minor” part of this equation. I too attended an “Early College Program” at the age of 16, and speaking from that experience there was a huge amount of downright mean spirited behaviors by the other students, and a few of the professors. It seems trite to call it run of the mill Jealousy, but really that’s all it was.

    I can also say that the experience had a HUGE impact on future interviews and careers. A single F on a College course can pretty much ruin a GPA before she’s even graduated High School!

    With all these factors involved, giving such a student an F is a VERY big deal.

  • T

    I took his course and dropped it. He wasn’t a very nice guy. I felt that he enjoyed making students feel dumb. He had a condescending tone and he belittled students. I hope she wins the case.

  • Phil Major

    Haha can I sue him too? Saidel is a real jerk who is at best ironically humorous and at worse a condescending, cold, aloof horror of a professor. I damn near flunked his class and I’m a good student. Logic with Saidel was one of my worst, most soul-crushing classroom experiences ever. But yeah. Good luck with that lawsuit.

  • Knapp TIme

    Oh ye land of frivolous lawsuits. With a mentality like that, that girl will get nowhere in life.

  • former student

    I wouldn’t say he is a jerk… if you say something stupid he is gonna call you on it but it teaches you to think before you speak which is a lesson a lot of people here need

  • Class of 2012

    She’s on Medicaid and unemployed, but still can send her student to GW. I don’t think money is the main issue in this case. I’ve taken a class with School Without Walls students, and it’s very clear that they are bright enough to be in the class. Hell, the SWW kids were smarter than 3/4 of my English WID class in Spring 2012. I think this is a case of the professor being an ass, as mentioned by comments above and on Rate My Professor. Good luck to the family. I hope they find success in this endeavor.

  • mike

    perhaps this woman can get that law professor at gw law school who is fond of filing frivolous lawsuits(forgot his name but he sued Catholic U. without any standing to do so)to represent her.

  • Jill

    I took this guy’s class a few years back, and it was the worst academic experience I’ve ever had. I’m surprised he is still teaching and wasn’t already fired. I’m glad he is finally getting his just deserts; he was mean, condescending, and appallingly inappropriate to students in my class. I hope this girl wins the suit!

    • Marian Hart

      This scenario sounds so familiar. It reminds e of an incident that happened to me several years ago. I was enrolled in a graduate night class in “Strategic Management” at Marymount University in Arlington Va. The Professor that taught the class was tenured at Marymount and he also lectured at George Washington University. As is often the case, to become familiar with the students, during the first couple of sessions he would have the students raise their hand when their name was called. On the second class meeting, my name was called, I raised my hand and his comment was “Oh, you’re still here?”. One could hear a pin drop on that comment, some students even gave a sigh of disbelief. Not knowing quiet how to respond, I took a deep breath and responded, “yes, I’m afraid so”. He gave me a hard time during the entire semester, never could understand the origin of his problem, perhaps it was the colour of my skin. I often time look back and view that episode as one of the inspirations that navigated me to the point where I am now in my life. To the young lady and her family, I say don’t give up!

  • 2013

    I have had several classes with Saidel and he is one of the best professors I have ever had. I have never seen him be intentionally rude or mean to a student. Yes his class is hard and as with any difficult class you have bitter students who can’t handle getting a bad grade. I have seen many students that are angry that he doesn’t inflate his grades just because other professors do. Just because you are an a student in high school does not mean you are entitled to a certain grade. You get the grade you earned. If Saidel gave her an F thats the grade she deserved. He is hard but treats everyone equally and respectfully and is upfront that his classes are difficult. This is college, and no place for babying and Saidel recognizes that. This lawsuit is ridiculous, and stands little chance of success without an attorney representing the plaintiff.

  • aadsf

    why we need tort reform

  • FroggyFrequenter

    Saidel is no-bullshit, he tells you flat-out at the beginning of the semester that if you don’t do the homework every night, you will fall behind and you will fail and it’s on you. Logic isn’t something you can half-ass… No denying that Saidel Intro to Logic is one of the harder classes at GW, but he’s very accessible, especially for a department head, and would always take extra time to walk through problems with you. This is ridiculous and maybe this girl will learn that life isn’t all A’s (or even all A’s and B’s)

  • Former Logic Student

    I can understand where this student is coming from as I am a former student of Saidel. His teaching style is in your face, and at times brash. Yet if you put the work in he notices. He was always very accommodating when I needed help and devotes the majority of his class to questions from students. He doesn’t want people to fail, but he wants people to work for a good grade; no free riders. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

  • Max C

    This lawsuit is a witch hunt on one of GW’s best professors. Professor’s Saidel’s rigor represents his respect for his students. He does not water down logic or raise grades to conform to the wave of grade inflation chiseling at the foundational value of our education. His wit and sense of humor may appear demeaning, but this comes from a place of insecurity not an intentional personal attack. I found Saidel’s personality relieving and engaging , a change from the dry, boring professor one would expect in a logic class. I cannot speak to the allegation about lying but grading in Saidel’s class is among the most transparent at GW. Weekly Quizzes which are promptly returned, a midterm and a final comprise the class requirements. No subjectivity or personal preference, what you get, is what you deserve. Before I receive the argument claiming “logic comes easy to this student and he didn’t have to deal with the wrath of Saidel” it didn’t. It was the hardest class I took that semester and I struggled. However, attending office hours, doing weekly homework and using the free logic tutor provided I worked hard and did reasonably well. An “environment of deception” is laughable. He answers questions throughout every part of the class and responds extremely quickly to emails. I am sorry this student had issues with Professor Saidel but ratemyprofessor seems a more appropriate forum rather than a courtroom.



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  • Currently Enrolled In Eric’s Class

    I’m currently taking logic with Saidel. Anyone who wishes bad things for the guy just because they took his class and it was difficult, a lot of work, and they didn’t get an “A” really needs to grow up. Take some goddamn responsibility, rise to the challenge. Saidel is tough but fair; you just need to keep up your end of the deal.

  • Michael

    I took one of Prof. Saidel’s logic class. It is more demanding then others, but he tells you what you need to do in order to pass. He’s actually quite a nice guy and wants you do to well, but he’s not the kind of professor that’ll throw you a bone just because you don’t “get” the material. I had to work my ass off, but with Saidel you get the grade you earn and deserve. It was one of the best classes I took at GW and it’s a shame for him and his current students that he’s been dragged into this.

  • ratspt

    Ok read the but what kind of bullying? Besides being told to use a certain “tutor” what was the core bullying? Wheres the story? Why write an article like this if you dont give details about the story? Sounds likd selective reporting!

  • lori

    Why did the article feel the need to mention that the woman is on Medicaid? How is that relevant to the story?

  • mom

    so glad Saidel is being sued. i was tempted to do this myself. so vindictive, goes after kids mercilessly. hate to wish this on anyone, but I hope this lawsuit is the nightmare for him that his actions have been for our family.

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