Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's not just here in Hampton Roads


Regent University Front
Originally uploaded by Parnelli_97.
When I saw this, Maybe He Shouldn’t Have Spoken His Mind and glanced at the first line, T. Hayden Barnes opposed his university’s plan to build two large parking garages, I was certain I knew what university Mr. Barnes attended. I was wrong:
T. Hayden Barnes opposed his university’s plan to build two large parking garages with $30 million from students’ mandatory fees. So last spring, he did what any student activist would do: He posted fliers criticizing the plan, wrote mass e-mails to students, sent letters to administrators and wrote a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper. While that kind of campaign might be enough to annoy university officials, Barnes never thought it would get him expelled.

Rather than ignore him or set up a meeting with concerned students, Valdosta State University, in Georgia, informed Barnes, then a sophomore, that he had been “administratively withdrawn” effective May 7, 2007. In a letter apparently slipped under his dorm room door, Ronald Zaccari, the university’s president, wrote that he “present[ed] a clear and present danger to this campus” and referred to the “attached threatening document,” a printout of an image from an album on Barnes’s Facebook profile. The collage featured a picture of a parking garage, a photo of Zaccari, a bulldozer, the words “No Blood for Oil” and the title “S.A.V.E.-Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage,” a reference to a campus environmental group and Barnes’s contention that the president sought to make the structures part of his legacy at the university.
Oh, wait, I have a prognostication. I see the future... of reporting here on the southside... from our local newspaper:
Ronald Zaccari, president of Valdosta State University, expelled sophomore student T. Hayden Barnes, an opponent of the university’s plans to build two needed parking garages. At issue is the funding of this project; the funding stream is the student parking fee, assessed to all students. Parking is free for everyone, including guests of students and visitors to the university. He did what many student activists have done in the past, and then some. He posted fliers criticizing the plan, wrote mass e-mails to students, sent letters to administrators, and wrote a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper. Unlike the civil rights protestors of the 1960’s, Barnes’s fliers, emails, and letters used threatening language. While that kind of campaign might have been enough to annoy university officials forty years ago, in today’s violent world university’s must ensure threats are not a part of the campus environment. Barnes was “administratively withdrawn” effective May 7, 2007.

In a letter, Ronald Zaccari, the university’s president, wrote that Barnes “present[ed] a clear and present danger to this campus” and referred to the “attached threatening document,” a printout of a cluster of photographs on his Facebook profile. The collage featured a picture of a parking garage and other scenes around campus.
Hey, perhaps I could get a job at the paper!

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