So I'm taking a storyboarding class at my college and we have a big project coming up. I've been working on it a lot and talked about the story with my professor and he seemed to really enjoy it. We're on week two of working on it and I've finished my treatment and have been working on the storyboards digitally at home. When I went to class, my friend who gets sick often was there (a rare occurrence even though she tries her hardest) and we chatted a bit at the beginning of class. The professor handed out a list of shots we should use in our story if we wanted. As I already had my shot list at home with my storyboards, I decided to help my friend since she didn't completely know what to do.

I was helping her develop her story and we decided to watch some videos on my computer for inspiration. The project theme was "Escape" so we were watching escape scenes from movies. The professor notices and comes over and I make a joke about how we're watching one of the best scenes in film history (it was a scene from Shrek with the princesses). He tells me to stop the video so I do, but at this point I can't tell if he's joking or not. I stop the video and he tells me to turn it off so I exit full screen and close the video. He then proceeds to ask me a question I don't hear (tight fitting mask plus my anxiety making my blood pound made it hard to hear). I ask him to repeat his question and he gets mad. He then asks me what the video has to do with my story and if I'm using it for my shot list. I explain to him, no, I'm helping my friend since I'm pretty much done with my project. Then he asks me something else, this time I didn't understand him at all and my anxiety was through the roof. The class by now is dead silent. I ask him to repeat his question and he takes my handout of shots he gave us earlier and rips it in half. He asked me what about the shots we talked about last week. This still confuses me because we didn't discuss shots. I told him about my story and that was it. He then asked how long we've been working on this project. I say "around two weeks" he said it's been longer than that (it really hasn't). Then he tells me if I don't tell him what shots I have I get a zero in class for the day. I said that I have my shot list at home but I can gladly go through the script with him and tell him what I remember I wrote down for that scene. He gets mad and rips the paper in half again.

At this point, he turns to another student and makes him read what he has so far for a shot list. Then other students. By now, my friend has gone to the bathroom because she started crying. She can't handle being yelled at.However, the teacher keeps going. One class member has less than I do, but he tells them good job. I keep working silently and decide to just copy down what I have on my computer at home onto my notebook so he won't blow a gasket again. I felt humiliated and angry, and I don't know what to do about it. My brother says I should go talk to the head of the department but I don't know if that's appropriate to do in this situation.

TL;DR: I was helping my friend in class and my professor thought I had done zero work, embarrassed me and my friend, yelled at us, threatened me with a 0, then humiliated me by using my classmates as "examples"

  • 7
    What would you like to accomplish? Your question is very long and with no paragraphs it is very difficult to read. There is lots of unneeded information that has no relevance, like the theme of the project, Shrek, etc. Can you stick to the key details and organize a bit to improve the readability?
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 8, 2021 at 17:42
  • 3
    Shrek themed projects are a pretty big deal, +1 for important context. Mar 8, 2021 at 19:24

2 Answers 2


This professor has behaved in a completely unprofessional way that could be extremely triggering especially to students in the class who have experienced physical and emotional trauma in their personal lives. Your friend literally fleeing the classroom to escape the emotional abuse of the moment is a perfect example of someone who was massively triggered by this awful exhibition.

The fact is that time is up on this type of behavior in the modern era, and you don't have to tolerate it. I would lodge a formal complaint with the university, explaining that the professor shouted, ripped up papers, and belittled you in front of the class. Clearly, he was "having a day" and couldn't handle the fact that (in his estimation) you were being disruptive and not staying on task. However, it is part of a professor's job to stay calm and grounded even when students exhibit behavior they find challenging. This needs addressing and luckily there are channels to do so.


I recommend following up with the professor himself. Ideally by asking for an appointment (and feel free to bring someone with you if you're uncomfortable going alone), but e-mail will do in a pinch. You should (1) concisely and clearly explain what happened (much more concisely and clearly than you did above), and (2) state that you found his reaction in class to be humiliating and unnecessary, and you would like to request that he not do anything like that again.

I also recommend being polite and avoiding accusatory language; the goal is to smooth over a misunderstanding, not to assign fault. Hopefully, this will lead to a friendly conversation, and he will take the lead in acknowledging that he misjudged the situation and his reaction was inappropriate. Sadly, I cannot guarantee this; he may entrench himself further into an adversarial position. In the latter case, it would not be inappropriate to discuss the situation with the department chair or another trusted professor; however, I do not think that doing so is terribly likely to lead to a more favorable outcome.

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    Tearing up a piece of paper is a fairly aggressive act. If the professor had humiliated OP in a way that could plausibly be explained by a misunderstanding, I might agree with your suggestion, but in this case I think it would be appropriate to go straight to the department chair without attempting to confront the professor first.
    – Max
    Mar 9, 2021 at 7:27
  • I definitely see where you're coming from, and I agree that discussing directly with the department chair might not be inappropriate. But I stand by my answer; I think attempting to discuss with the professor directly before escalating is the right thing to do. You should consider posting a separate answer with your alternative approach, though.
    – cag51
    Mar 9, 2021 at 23:52

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