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Friday, February 17, 2012

Student Interviews

The following are transcription excerpts from interviews of students who attended Dr. Child's final class. Surnames have been removed pending the conclusion of Dr. Child's trial.

Note: The interviewer is marked as "INT", with the subject marked as their name or the first letter of their name.


INT: "Well, let's get started. Please state your name and age."

ADAM: "So this is getting recorded and stuff?"

INT: "Yes, for documentation purposes."

ADAM: "Adam [removed], 20 years old."

INT: "About where were you sitting in the classroom?"

ADAM: "Third or fourth row, over to the left as you looked at the front."

INT: "Describe what it is that happened."

ADAM: "The whole thing?"

INT: "The important parts, and what you think would be useful information for the trial."

ADAM: "Well, professor Child did like to do some quirky experiments before all this. He had us all fill out questionnaires once and he showed how much the class varied in their thinking. I dunno if you know about the prisoner's dilemma, but he basically did that with us. He brought two guys down to the front, told them that their next test grade would be replaced here, and said that they'd make their decisions in secret. Professor Child gave them the choice of determining their grades for each other. It was weird. He said, like, if both of you want to fail the other, then you both get a C. If you want to pass the other guy, then you get an A. If one of you says pass and the other says fail, then whoever said pass would get a failing grade and the other way around. So they both made each other fail, and were gonna get C's because of it. Professor explained it all and didn't force the grades that way, though, so that was nice."

INT: "So these types of experiments on you as students was typical?"

ADAM: "Not typical, but not unusual either. Like, he did it whenever he wanted to prove a point about a class. It was kinda different than what I'm used to, but I liked it."

INT: "What about the last experiment, then?"

ADAM: "That was way over the top. We weren't really as surprised when he brought in a kid as other classes would've been, but it was still was a little strange, I guess. The first couple things he did were fine, having the kid solve puzzles to get food and money. I think he was homeless or something, 'cause he ate like crazy and looked dirty and stuff. When he started with the handcuffs, it was like, 'Wait, what's going on?' I don't think any of us knew where it was gonna go from there, but professor Child kept going on about pain and [expletive]. Oh, sorry, didn't mean to curse."

INT: "It's fine, continue."

ADAM: "Okay." [Adam gives a relaxed laugh] "I think half of us thought it was just an act, that the kid wasn't really getting hurt at all. I mean, since I was in the front row, I could see the pain on the kids face every time he got a shock. But we all just sat there like idiots. We didn't want to interrupt class or stop the test. I thought that if I tried, I'd probably be told to sit down or leave or get in some sort of trouble."

INT: "So nobody did anything to stop Dr. Child?"

ADAM: "Nope, no one."

INT: "Then what happened?"

ADAM: "He pulled out a gun and aimed it at the kid. Professor Child wanted the kid to do one last puzzle or else he'd shoot. It was [expletive] up."

INT: "Did the child complete the puzzle?"

ADAM: "Yeah. Professor gave him half an hour to do it. The kid was crying the whole time, it was sick. Then when the kid finishes, Professor gave some speech about how we didn’t speak up or something. I didn't really hear it since I was waiting for him to start shooting at us or something."

INT: "And after that?"

ADAM: "The police came in and arrested the professor. Hey [INT's name], is that kid gonna be alright?"

INT: "Lucas will be fine, he's in protective care now."

ADAM: "Okay, cool. I had a little brother that I'd hate to see something crazy like that happen to him."

INT: "Thank you for your time."

ADAM: "No problem."


INT: "This will be recorded for documentation purposes. Is this okay with you?"

LISA: "Yeah, it's fine."

INT: "Please state your name and age."

LISA: "Lisa [removed], 18."

INT: "Describe what happened."

LISA: "Dr. Child went crazy on some kid and wanted to kill him. Then he made us all feel bad about not stepping in."

INT: "He went crazy?"

LISA: "Yeah, he gave a little boy electric shocks until he did one of those Sukodu [sic] puzzles. Then he pulls a gun on the kid!"

INT: "So what did you do?"

LISA: "I called the police."

INT: "When in class did you place the call?"

LISA: "I dunno what time it was, but I ca-"

INT: "Sorry, I meant what was happening at the time you called."

LISA: "Oh, sorry. It was a few minutes after the professor pulled the gun. I was sitting in one of the back rows. I tried to hide it, but he didn't really look at me when I was talking to the 911 people. He was just aiming the gun at the kid the whole time. 911 didn't sound like they believed me, but since the police came in full force, I guess they took it seriously."

INT: "Why did you call the police then, and not earlier when Dr. Child was administering the electrical shocks?"

LISA: "I thought the kid was just faking it. My cousins are kids that would do stuff like that. I mean, the kid got all that money and food, so I thought he was doing it for more money or food later."

INT: "So you never thought to step in at all?"

LISA: "Hey, it's just what happened, okay? I called the police, I did my part. I've got a friend, Katy [removed], that would've spoken out in a heartbeat, but that's her. I'm me, alright?"

INT: "Understood. What happened next?"

LISA: "That 911 operator stayed with me the whole half hour that the professor had the gun to the kid's head. When he lowered it, I told the 911 guy, and the police came in soon afterward. I guess he relayed that information over of something."

INT: "Alright, thank you for your time."

LISA: "Yeah."


INT: "Please state your name and age."

J: "Jordan [removed], 21."

INT: "Where were you sitting in class?"

J: "Front row, like I usually try to do."

INT: "Describe what happened in Dr. Child's class."

J: "I might sound a little mental, but it was fascinating. His speech on motivations was impressive, and his test was definitely a little off-the-wall, but it was at least insightful."

INT: "So you enjoyed the class?"

J: "I don't think that 'enjoyed' is the right word. I'm here to learn, Mr. [Int's surname]. And I learned plenty about motivation and about how groups think as a collective that day."

INT: "Did you try to stop Dr. Child in any way?"

J: "Um, this is getting recorded, right?"

INT: "Yes."

J: "Okay, well, just don't show this to my friends. I wanted to stop him, and at the same time...I didn't. He was going somewhere with this lecture in the end, and I wanted to see where it went. I'll admit that I got unnerved watching that kid getting shocked. Then when he pulled the gun, I couldn't do anything to stop it anymore. Don't get me wrong, I'd never put a kid through this kind of situation, and it's horrible that it happened. But Dr. Child had an extremely valid point at the end of it all. It's a shame he felt like this was the way he should get his point across, because his class had been one of the most interesting ones I've ever taken.

INT: "So you're saying that, as unethical as it was, it was worth happening?"

J: "I don't think my other classmates got as much out of it as I did, but it wasn't completely worthless, is what I'm saying.

INT: "Are you glad Dr. Child got arrested?"

J: "He broke the law, so he should have gotten arrested."

INT: "Alright, thank you for your time."

J: "Sure thing."


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