On Sept. 15, a business school professor allegedly texted a student’s mother from the student’s phone and answered another student’s phone when it rang during the same class.
According to three student witnesses who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, Dr. Art Carden was in the middle of a lecture when he stopped and singled-out a student for looking at her phone. According to those three student witnesses who were present in the class at the time, he then allegedly took her phone and in their words, “demanded” she unlock it before proceeding to text the student’s mother who reportedly had texted the student during class. The student, according to those who were present, looked at her phone because her mother had texted her.
Later during that same class period in the same section of Principles of Macroeconomics, another student’s phone reportedly buzzed because he was receiving a phone call from his father. Carden then allegedly answered the student’s phone and spoke to the student’s father in front of the class.
The Samford Crimson contacted Carden and asked for a response to his alleged actions.
“It’s really kind of a soft incentive for people to not be distracted by technology while they are in class,” Carden said in defense of his policy of answering students’ phones during class. “From what I can tell, it seems effective.”
In his syllabus, which was provided to the Crimson via a student in the class, Carden outlines his class policy. Carden’s syllabus reads: “If you are late, distracted by technology, asleep, or working on material for another class, you will be counted absent. I reserve the right to answer your phone if it makes noise.”
In a follow-up email to the Crimson, Carden said students today face unique circumstances.
“Students in 2021 face a challenge previous generations didn’t face, specifically, constant connection means something pulling for their attention at pretty much all times, and that’s very hard to manage,” Carden said.
His phone policy, he further explained, is there to “create an easy-to-remember incentive to make sure phones are turned off or set to ‘do not disturb.’”
An anonymous Rate My Professor response written on Sept. 18 of this year referenced the alleged texting incident.
“A girl in my class got a text from her mom about a serious concern and when she took out her phone to respond Dr. Carden took her phone WITHOUT ASKING and texted the Mom back himself,” the anonymous student wrote on the professor rating website.
Another rating from March 19 references this policy, suggesting that it has been in place in previous semesters.
“He is extremely rude in general and threatens to TEXT from students’ PHONES if he hears them buzz in class,” another student wrote on the Rate My Professor website.
Carden said he has used this policy his entire teaching career. Throughout the course of his time at Samford, Carden said he has answered three or four students’ phones during class.
None of the students who spoke to The Crimson about the incident said they filed a complaint with administration. According to the Samford Care website, Formal Complaints with the university can be filed “by any student who wishes to file a grievance about his/her perceived treatment/interaction with a member of the university community or a service offered at the university.” A student complaint form may be found on the Samford Care website.
One of the students who spoke with The Crimson said that they did not know how to file a report, while another said they felt that the Samford administration would not take them seriously if they did file one.
When asked whether a report had been filed by anyone else regarding the incidents of Sept. 15 in Carden’s class, Dean of the Brock School of Business Charles Carson said his office was at the moment unaware of the reported issue.
“No issue like that has been brought to the Dean’s office,” Carson said.
When asked in a follow-up email whether his office had any additional response in regard to the alleged incidents, Dean Carson said he did not have any additional comments to provide.
Carden said he wants students to know they can and should approach him to express any concerns.
“That saddens me, and I wish they had come to me first,” Carden said, about the students who shared their concerns about the incident with the Crimson. “I hope I speak for professors everywhere when I say students should be confident that they can approach us about issues of classroom content and conduct without fear of reprisal.”
Carden said one student did approach him about the incident. Additionally, Carden said he applies the cell phone policy to himself as well. Carden said he allowed a student to answer his personal cell phone when an incoming spam call caused Carden’s phone to go off in class a week later.
The Crimson reached out to other administration officials regarding the alleged incidents but did not receive a response as of press time.
On Aug. 31, Carden received the Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award during Opening Convocation. He has been employed at Samford for over nine years and is currently a Senior Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.