A professor who argued with her student that her Pit Bull service dog wasn’t allowed in class has found herself in hot water as thousands of students call for her to be dismissed from her position at George Washington University (GW).
Marie Matta, an Assistant Industry Professor of Decision Sciences within the School of Business, was filmed by Liza Malinsky, a junior majoring in business, as the pair argued openly about whether her service dog Charlie was allowed to be in class with her.
The extensive footage shows Matta and Malinksy engaging in a heated discussion in front of Malinksy’s peers before a GW Police Department Officer arrives in the classroom and suggests that he and Malinsky step outside to discuss the issue privately. Malinsky has since uploaded the footage to Instagram (opens in new tab) where it has received thousands of likes and comments.
Malinsky says that officials within the Disability Support Services team told her that she didn’t need a letter to attend classes with her service dog Charlie, but that upon arriving in class, Matta raised an issue with her about her lack of paperwork.
“This student won’t get rid of the dog from the class and has been told repeatedly that a disability support policy and procedure is that you’re not allowed a service dog in a classroom without paper accommodations,” Matta can be heard saying to the officer in the video.
Malinksy said that she told Matta during the first week of classes, which were held online, that she didn’t require paperwork for Charlie and was transparent about the fact that he would be accompanying her to class, even though she was under no obligation to do so.
“If I told you I needed glasses or a wheelchair to come to class, or I was using a hearing aid, I can tell you those things if I want to, there’s the voluntary reporting system,” Malinsky said in an interview. “But I’m not required by law to tell you ahead of time I’m coming with my medical device.”
Malinksy says that before she began recording footage of the argument between the pair, Matta had raised an issue with the fact that Charlie was a Pit Bull, a claim that one of her fellow students supports.
“She called Liza and her dog a liability,” explained Jhurney Hairston. “It felt like she was just trying to make it seem like Liza was this aggressive person with this aggressive dog and everyone was in danger, when that just wasn’t the situation at all.”
Matta has since apologized by email to Malinksy saying that she was operating under information that she now realizes is incorrect and has acknowledged the pain and distress her actions have caused.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain this incident caused,” Matta said in the email. “I am committed to learning from this experience and moving forward in the most productive way to foster a more inclusive classroom experience for you and your peers.”
A petition (opens in new tab) is now circulating calling for Matta’s immediate removal from her post at the university. “As the GW community, we must come together to stand with Liza Malinsky and everybody she is fighting for,” the petition reads. “Professor Marie Matta must be held accountable.”
The University says they are working with the GW School of Business leadership team to ensure classroom experiences are inclusive, stating that “our student’s wellbeing is our highest priority.”
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.
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