Letter to the Editor: Just another meaningless imperfection

Dear Editor,

To the Office of Community Standards and the University of Connecticut as a Whole,

When I first came to the University of Connecticut I did so with an open mind and eager spirit, ready to take on new freedoms, learning experiences, challenges, and ultimately grow as a person. I have made many friends here who share these same values, and we do our best to support each other in achieving them. While I feel that in many ways I personally have been able to fulfill these goals, along the way I came to realize that rather than the University being there as a support system designed to foster these ideals that my friends and I so value, it felt more and more like a “Big Brother” system to be avoided at all costs. Over the years it has become clear to my friends and I that the University cares far more about it’s overall image than any individual student, no matter how biased and arbitrary this has made their disciplinary process. Never has this felt more evident than in the past few weeks while I was following the progress of one of my close friends in dealing with the University Community Standards Office.

For his anonymity I will refer to my friend throughout this letter as Student X.

Student X, once a senior in the UConn School of Business, with two incredibly impressive job offers on the table, was recently expelled from the University after being accused of hosting a Halloween party held off-campus by his roommates. While celebrating a widely accepted holiday with a gathering at one’s house is in no way illegal, Student X was still against the idea in the first place knowing that there could be consequences. After being outvoted, he decided to attend in order to keep an eye on his possessions and attempt to keep order in the house. As it was Halloween, and with word spreading quickly, the party did soon get over-crowded and police were required to help restore order, There were no injuries, accidents, or other issues of that nature recorded at the event, it was simply an issue of too many uninvited people showing up. After speaking with the police the following week in order to apologize, as well as thank them for their help in handling the situation, the Sergeant completely dismissed their citation and even tore up the ticket. This alone shows both integrity on Student X’s part, as well as proves that even the police understood that things simply got out of hand against the tenants will, and did not deem further punishment necessary. Despite this, it seems that the school believed otherwise.

After being informed of the initial police report (as apparently it is protocol for the police to inform the school of any and all interactions they have with students, whether or not they occur on campus) the University called Student X in for a meeting with community standards. Unbeknownst to X, they found that he was still on probation from a prior offense his sophomore year. While he was informed that one is eligible to be relieved of their probationary status after six months, Student X was not made properly aware that he was responsible for appealing the probation himself after this six month period. This seems to me a flawed system, however even if X was still on probation, it does not change that fact that it is overwhelmingly evident he has used the time since his prior offense to completely turn his life around and become a model citizen within and outside of the UConn community.

Student X has balanced being an outstanding student within the School of Business, working on community service projects through the Leadership Office, being an active member of the UConn Men’s Rugby Club, and working three different (often overlapping) internships. As I mentioned prior his hard work, determination, and integrity have landed him two extremely good job offers, which are now very much on the line due to the University’s decisions. Student X has worked so hard in these past years to grow as a person and give as much back as he can to UConn, that it is exceptionally disappointing that upon hearing all of this the Office of Community Standards (an office that is supposed to have both the best interest of the community and the students in mind) took absolutely none of it into consideration. In fact, it is quite astounding that the recommendation of one employee of the office, based on their personal review of the case, seems to trump any measure of character that was allowed to be presented during the appeal process. It is disturbing to think that the fate of myself and my fellow students lies in the hands of such an arbitrary process.

Furthermore it seems this office has deeper flaws when it comes to consistency of sanctions. I have been made aware of instances in which organizations are caught hosting events that are not in accordance with University Standards for numerous reasons, and the sanctions are brought down on the organization as a whole, rather than any one individual found responsible for being a “host” of the event. Is it simply because this celebratory Halloween gathering was not connected to any particular organization that Student X is not protected by the same apparent loopholes in the system? It seems to me that had X been a member of certain University affiliated organizations, it would not be him facing these sanctions alone, but with the protection of the officers of the organization, and the organization as a whole to take whatever slap on the wrist they would have received. This thought is absolutely appalling to me, but nonetheless, based on prior occurrences, seems to be the case.

Knowing Student X personally, I firmly believe that he would never intentionally do anything to harm his community. He is someone who looks out for his friends and his neighbors, and goes the extra mile where he can to make sure his road to personal success betters those around him as well. I know he is absolutely crushed by the University’s decision to expel him, especially after offering to do whatever it could possibly take to allow him to stay. He has given so much to this school (as we all do), both monetarily and intangibly, it is personally extremely disheartening to see that this is the return on his contributions.

I used to think much more of this University. I used to believe that it took care of its students. I used to have faith that being here was my best course for self betterment. I used to be proud to be a Husky. Now I realize that we are all just a means to an end in the bureaucratic system which is a state funded University. To the University Student X was just another meaningless imperfection, easily removed in order to maintain the facade.

Regrettably,

Thomas Martella, Disappointed member of the UConn Community