A Georgetown professor found out last week how fast the blogosphere can spread a rumor.

A Georgetown professor found out last week how fast the blogosphere can spread a rumor.

The prospect of an eMail bouncing to every corner of the internet has college professors measuring their words carefully after a New York University (NYU) professor’s acerbic eMail to a student went “viral” last month and drew worldwide attention.

Scott Galloway, clinical professor of marketing at NYU’s business school, responded to an eMail sent Feb. 9 by a student complaining that Galloway had dismissed him when he came to class an hour late.

Galloway, founder of personalized gift web site RedEnvelope.com, responded with a 424-word message reminding the student that “there is a baseline level of decorum … that we expect of grown men and women who the admissions department have deemed tomorrow’s business leaders” and urging the student to “get your [expletive] together.”

“For the record,” Galloway continued in his eMail message, “we also have no stated policy against bursting into show tunes in the middle of class, urinating on desks, or taking that revolutionary hair removal system for a spin.”

Other faculty members from campuses nationwide said the direct and inflammatory response was rare in higher education.

Erin Claudio, a health instructor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, said even if Galloway’s stance was reasonable, the use of curse words and exaggerations will make educators vulnerable to students who can share the message with the click of a mouse.

“You have to be sensitive to the fact that it could spread around and it could go viral,” he said. “But you would hope that people are responsible and understand the basic rules of courtesy and how to be polite to someone.”

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