Editorial: Professor’s unstable behavior cause for concern, dismissal

Spinnaker

We always thought UNF’s derisive moniker “U Never Finish” summed up the shortcomings of our beloved commuter school sufficiently. Apparently we can add “Ur Never Fired” as another sardonic sobriquet to describe our home for higher education.

Last week, the Spinnaker reported the bizarre story of a UNF professor wailing a 2-by-4 at a contractor hired to construct a gazebo at his Queen’s Harbor home.

Dr. Tayeb Giuma, an associate engineering professor, took an Albert Pujols swing at Dustin Brown, the contractor, after the two reportedly found themselves at loggerheads over the price of the job.

Giuma is seen on his neighbor’s surveillance video — smile, you’re on Candid Camera! — coming from behind Brown with the 2-by-4. Giuma then swung the lumber and struck Brown in the back, reportedly leaving a bruise.

After the video was shown to police, they charged Giuma with simple battery, which carries with it up to a year in prison, should he be convicted.

The incident occurred almost two months ago, yet the details are just beginning to emerge. Along with them, a deeply disturbing narrative of an out-of-control professor and an apathetic or incompetent UNF administration starts to take shape.

The Spinnaker obtained police reports that paint a sobering picture of recklessness and disorder that shatters the standards of integrity and leadership we have come to expect from our esteemed faculty.

The police reports contain the following:

In 2005, police arrested Giuma for shoplifting from a Winn-Dixie location. The professor used a self-checkout stand to scan $21 worth of groceries. The only problem was that his shopping cart was filled with $220.81 worth of unpaid goods.

In 2008, Giuma was again arrested for shoplifting, this time at a Lowe’s, where he hid dimmer light switches in the box of another item. He was stopped while attempting to leave the store after paying for the boxed item, but not the stowaway merchandise. The arrest report pegs the value of this attempted theft at $162.

It only gets worse from there.

In 2001, authorities were dispatched to the Giuma residence on a domestic disturbance call. According to the police report, Giuma became angry with his wife, “grabbed her by the hair and threw her to the floor.”

No charges were filed.

In 2005, Giuma allegedly threatened a neighbor with bodily harm.

“I’m going to hunt you until you are dead,” Giuma reportedly said. Just last year, Giuma concluded an argument with another neighbor by punching him in the face. Now that’s Community-Based Transformational Learning. Unbelievably, this long list of ugliness merely scratches the surface.

Again, returning to the police reports:

In 1999, police came to the Giuma residence to investigate accusations of child abuse.

As reported in the Spinnaker last week, Giuma was arrested and charged with felony child abuse for restraining his daughter in a chair with a leather belt and leaving her in that position overnight. The responding officer “observed a busted blister on the victim’s wrist” and other abrasions, according to the arrest report.

The charge was later dropped.

With this arrest record and the visual evidence of anti-social behavior, how in the world was this man allowed to continue teaching at UNF?

Was the UNF administration unaware of these incidents? They had to be, right? They couldn’t possibly believe this behavior is acceptable for any university employee, let alone one that interacts with students on a daily basis, could they?

Giuma has served our university for better than two decades as a professor. He has had the opportunity to influence hundreds, if not thousands, of young minds in his position of academic authority.

Revelations that this latest incident is far removed Giuma’s first run-in with Johnny Law raise serious questions about his fitness to teach, just as it places the competence of the administration’s policies in doubt.

College is supposed to be the place where students learn to disagree agreeably — to share ideas and work out differences through the use of reason, not violence.

Giuma is correct to say that he is innocent until proven guilty. But where there is smoke, there is usually fire.

Giuma’s actions are repugnant and far beyond the pale.

He should be dismissed immediately. It’s been a long time coming.