I tell this story not for any nostalgia of my college years or to compare my hooliganism to others. I tell it so that everyone sees some context for what I am about to say. Last night, I chatted with Dennis Lennox of Central Michigan University. CMU has moved forward with formal expulsion proceedings against Lennox. The charges stem from this incident with English professor, Peter Koper. Lennox was passing out literature inside one of the CMU buildings on the evening of October 23rd. Passing out literature within university building is technically a violation of the student code of conduct. As such Professor Koper began picking up his literature for destruction. He then approached Lennox and demanded that he identify him. Lennox tells me that late at night he felt threatened and believed that identifying himself could endanger him. As such, he refused. This is another technical violation of the student code of conduct because at CMU, if an administrator asks for your identification, the student must comply. (There is a relatively important aside to this. Lennox mostly put his literature next to the student newspaper and the professor only collected Lennox' literature even though both were technically in violation)
For this, Lennox wasn't merely verbally reprimanded. He wasn't merely scolded and lectured. Not at all. For this, CMU has followed through on the threat of formal charges, and he has an expulsion hearing next week. Now, keep in mind that each of the things I did in the dorms were also in violation of the University of Illinois student code of conduct. Our suite could also have technically faced expulsion proceedings. Of course, we posed no threat to the administration and the administration felt no need to exercise its power to eliminate us.
Where Dennis Lennox is different from our suite, is that he has become a threat to his administration. He has been painstakingly tracking the fiasco surrounding Gary Peters, who is simultaneously teaching in a classroom and running for Congress in a district hundreds of miles away from campus. This particular incident happened only eight days after this highly publicized confrontation with Dean Pamela Gates. While that may very well be a coincidence, the cynic in me believes different.
To put this fiasco into context, I will now show everyone CMU's student code of conduct policy on alcohol ...
A student shall not possess, use, manufacture, produce, or distribute, or aid in the use, manufacture, production, or distribution of, any controlled substance except as expressly permitted by law and university policy. Violation of the Residence Life Alcohol and Controlled Substances Policy is a violation of this section. Controlled substances are defined in the Controlled Substances Act of 1971, as amended.3.2.13 Violation of Alcohol Policy. A student shall not possess, consume or furnish, or aid in the consumption or furnishing of, alcoholic beverages except as permitted by law and University policy. Violation of the Residence Life Alcohol & Controlled Substances Policy is a violation of this section.
According to their policy, under age drinking is a violation. I bring this up for two reasons. If CMU is like any campus in America, then 90% of their freshman and sophomores are in technical and constant violation of this policy. I have been made aware of NO students that are being cited for violating this policy. While Dennis Lennox is facing expulsion for putting literature in a building and not telling a stranger his name, the freshman and sophomores on his campus are likely systematically violating the alcohol policy with impugnity. The fourteenth amendment is meant to treat everyone the same under the law. Does it sound as though Lennox is treated the way all other students are treated?
If the University's sociopathic abuse of power ended there, it would already be obscene, but it gets worse. It is both ironic and despicable that in their zeal to hold Lennox accountable to technical policies against passing out literature and not identifying himself properly, the University itself broke many of its own policies as well as general protocal of investigation.
First, Professor Koper didn't know Lennox by name. He sent an email to several folks including the aforementioned Dean of Students Pamela Gates and the President Michael Rao. His colleague, Professor Voison responded by sending him a picture of Dennis Lennox from a recent newspaper article. Now, I watch a lot of cop shows and I know that a line up of one is what one would corrupt. Furthermore, why is the President of the University carbon copied on this complaint? Does the President really need to get involved in an incident where a student is passing out literature and not identifying themselves.
Finally, there is the matter of the ombudsman, Susan Radamacher. The ombudsman is supposed to represent the student in complaints against the administration, and here is their code...
The Student Ombuds Office is part of the President's Office and a place for student voices to be heard. You can expect:* Accessibility* Confidentiality* ImpartialityThat code was broken in the case of Dennis Lennox. According to an email that was released to Lennox Radamacher shared the contents of their conversation that he had with her. (Lennox had inquired a couple weeks prior about potentially moving forward with action against the administration)
Finally, there is the peculiar nature of the timing of all of this. This incident happened in October. It is now nearly three months later and finally they have filed formal charges. Lennox tells me that the media pressure in October and November was much more significant that it is now. Certainly, this may just be the nature of the circumstances, however my cynical voice is screaming.
Since I am a blogger and not a traditional reporter, I don't have to hold myself to the standards of a traditional newsreporter. At this point I will drop the facade of straight news reporting and editorialize. I know exactly what is going on and that is because this fiasco is quite similar to the fiasco at Emory University. In both cases, the administrations identified a threat. In both cases, the administration used incendiary language to try and marginalize that threat. (Lennox was compared to the V. Tech shooter while Kuritzky was referred to as a sociopath) In both cases, the administrations used their student codes of conduct liberally to eliminate that threat. In both cases, fairness and due process weren't a priority. What was a priority was the elimination of the threat and each administration used whatever means they had at their disposal to eliminate each threat.
That's why a student at Central Michigan University is being threatened with expulsion because he passed out literature and he didn't identify himself to a stranger. It isn't that this student is bad or that he has egregiously violated a policy and must be dealt with properly. The student presents a threat to a corrupt administration and now he needs to be eliminated. Emory University expelled Kevin Kuritzky because he was twenty minutes late to a class a year earlier. CMU is trying to expel Dennis Lennox because he passed out fliers where he wasn't supposed to and he didn't identify himself to a stranger. This is the textbook definition of trumped up charges, and it is text book behavior for a sociopath.
There will be those that will try to draw larger inferences and attempt to place this story into a larger context. I believe there is a proper time and place for that, however this is not the time. Right now, this is about one student, Dennis Lennox, who deserves the same rights and freedoms that everyone else enjoys. He deserves for good folks everywhere to stand up for him as bravely as he stood up to the corrupt administration of CMU. I firmly believe that the timing of this event (his expulsion hearing is January 29) is done because the administration believes the heat has finally toned down. Everyone reading this can prove them wrong by emailing and calling the administrators and demanding that Dennis Lennox be left to continue to pursue his studies, and that he finally be treated with the same consideration that each of their other students are treated with. Here is the pertinent contact information...
CMU President Michael Rao, mailto:email@example.com (989) 774-3131* Assistant Dean of Students Anthony Voisin firstname.lastname@example.org and (989) 774-3016 * Board of Trustees Chairman Jeffrey Caponigro (R), email@example.com and (248) 355-3200* Board of Trustees member Stephanie Comai (R), firstname.lastname@example.org and (734) 761-6915* Board of Trustees member John Kulhavi (R), email@example.com and (248) 737-6222* Board of Trustees member Gail Torreano (R), firstname.lastname@example.org and (313) 223-7171