Man to plead guilty in attack on professor
UMass ex-student will bypass a trial, faces deportation
A college student accused of stabbing a science professor who gave him a failing grade plans to plead guilty to the attack, his lawyer said yesterday.
Nikhil Dhar, 24, is accused of attacking his professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell because he was flunking out of school and feared he would be deported to his native India.
Dhar was scheduled to go to trial tomorrow in Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge. But his lawyer , Stephen Hrones, said that there will not be a trial and that Dhar plans to enter guilty pleas April 17 to charges of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
“It’s going to be a plea,” Hrones said. “We’re not in much of a position to go to trial. The evidence is basically pretty overwhelming.”
Dhar is accused of stabbing Mary Elizabeth Hooker on Dec. 22, 2005, after following her more than 20 miles from the Lowell campus to her Cambridge home.
Right before the attack, Dhar allegedly told Hooker, “Now I will have to go back to my country,” police said.
Hooker, an assistant professor of clinical lab sciences at UMass-Lowell, had Dhar as a student in her hematology lecture and laboratory courses.
Police said they found a bloody note in his pocket, which said: “I’m sorry I’m having to do this. But I have no options left. . . . You look at me and I will kill you. I have nothing to lose.”
Hooker told police Dhar approached her at her home and wanted to talk about failing her class.
She said that when she suggested going to a coffee shop to talk, he dragged her into the yard, hit her, and stabbed her in the neck, according to police reports.
Hooker was hospitalized for several days after the attack.
Hrones said Dhar, who was from Calcutta, came to the United States on a student visa.
“There was tremendous pressure on him because he was flunking his courses, and if he flunked out of school, he’d be deported,” Hrones said.
“His family is also very highly educated, and he wasn’t doing well. It was a combination of those two things that exploded. This was completely out of character.”
Hrones said he has been talking with prosecutors about a sentencing recommendation to make to the judge, but the two sides have not reached an agreement.
Corey Welford, a spokesman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone, would not comment on any talks prosecutors have had with Dhar’s lawyer .
Hooker did not immediately return a message left at her office at UMass-Lowell.
Hrones would not discuss what sentence he is seeking. He said Dhar would be deported after he completes his prison term.
I guess I just wanted to post this story in relation to the whole Model Minority stereotype for Asian Americans which is hailed as “positive stereotype.”
Most people think of the Model Minority Stereotype as a positive typecasting of Asian Americans. I’d like to point to an excerpt from a former professor of mine CN Le who further dissects this Model Minority stereotype for those of you who are not familiar with his work on his website www.asian-nation.org.
“In a lot of ways, Asian Americans have done remarkably well in achieving “the American dream” of getting a good education, working at a good job, and earning a good living. So much so that the image many have of Asian Americans is that we are the “model minority” — a bright, shining example of hard work and patience whose example other minority groups should follow. However, the practical reality is slightly more complicated than that.”
The Model Minority image initially ocurred some thirty years ago or so in which News Week published an article hailing Chinese Americans for their ability to “move up the socio-economic ladder with no help from anyone else.” This whole stereotype polarized racial relations and pits Asian Americans against many other people of color (mainly African Americans, and now even Latin@s). It is a socio-political wedge used to show non-Asian people of color that we are the so-called “Model Minority” and that we should be admired and replicated by Blacks and Latin@s if they truly wish to “assimilate” or achieve the “American Dream.”
Many argue that the stereotype is positive in nature and merely praises Asian Americans for their hard-work ethic based on some perverted romanticization and manipulation of Confucianistic beliefs which grant Asians/Asian Americans a cultural advantage. But largely, the stereotype denies that there is any heterogeneity within the Asian American Diaspora. We Asians exist as some super-human extension of academia quenching our thirst on books, degrees, and jobs in the math and sciences. But the reality is that this sort of “super-stereotype” creates super-expectations on many Asian Americans to “succeed” within academia and reach high for this purported American Dream. What happens to those who are unable to reach for this American Dream, or those who are unable to fit this Model Minority image that so much of society typecasts us to be? What sort of sociological and psychological outcomes are there in response to this stereotype?
This article I believe is a good example of the high pressures and expectations that are set upon Asians and especially on many South Asians to achieve “academic greatness.” Much of this desire and need to succeed (all immigration/deportation discussions aside) fuels a zero tolerance for failure. Many Asian Americans suffer this Model Minority affliction everyday, some have taken their lives as they are unable to stack up to this racial pecking order where we MUST be at the peak of our game. The Model Minority Stereotype is not only racially divisive and falsely based, but it also creates unfair standards for Asian Americans. We are not superhuman by any stretch of the imagination. The Asian American Diaspora is much more heterogeneous than the stereotype makes it out to be. Many colleges look at this stereotype and pair it with the number of students making it into top elite colleges. I think it’s time to look at not only the unfair pressures placed on these students to succeed, but also those who are unable to reach the higher echelons (spelling?) of society and internalize these racialized notions to the point where they feel there is nothing left but to resort to violence in order to attain success. It’s time to look beyond the actual crimes committed (this is not to minimize the violence or damage inflicted upon the teacher) and towards the social pressures that have grown so strong that they force many Asian American individuals to do whatever is necessary to attain the falsities of the “American Dream.”