Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bustamante may have designed core assignments around 'stalking behaviors'

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Ernesto Bustamante, the University of Idaho professor who allegedly stalked and killed one of his former students before committing suicide, may have developed a large assignment for one of his psychology classes based around stalking behaviors.

At the university, Bustamante taught Psych 218, where he met Katy Benoit, the woman he allegedly entered into a sexual relationship with, stalked, threatened with a gun, and killed.

In a series of emails between Aug. 24 and 25, which were recently released to the media, several of Bustamante's colleagues discussed whether the subject matter for Psych 218 (Introduction to Research in the Behavioral Sciences) should be changed. Research papers and writing assignments were geared toward discussing stalking behaviors, with a “Stalking Behaviors Survey” assignment originally due Sept. 23, 2011.

A student, retaking the course, wrote in email to say, "This is just friendly advice, in the light of recent events the stalking behavior subject matter is inappropriate and even offensive. I would kindly suggest that the psychology department consider changing the topic of our research paper to account for sensitivity of recent events.”

"Given what happened it is pretty unnerving that Ernesto chose stalking as a topic (at least I’m assuming he came up with these assignments),” wrote Kenneth Locke,the chair of the school's psychology department, in an email.

While one redacted source said he or she was not sure if Ernesto had created the assignments, another redacted source noted, “I believe that Ernesto did create the assignment since Brian did not use it when he taught 218.”

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Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...