In an age of heightened campus security, it’s understandable when a university takes all necessary precautions in order to ensure the welfare of its students.
Unfortunately, it seems that the administration may at times take action without divulging full details surrounding a given incident or without investigating the incident any further before taking action. Such is apparently the case with freshman family and consumer sciences major Robert Walker.
Walker said he was asked to leave Eastern – which he did Saturday on his own free will – after someone reported a Facebook status update to the Student Standards Board.
Walker said the status update read, "In five days things are going down." Other updates reading, "sorry about your damn luck," and referring to Tuesday as "the day Hell will freeze over," when read with the update in question gave a rather cryptic message, but Walker said the phrase "sorry about your damn luck" was from a Total Nonstop Action Wrestling star named "Cowboy" James Storm.
Walker said his status updates are either quotes from wrestling or refer to events that are personal to him – "the day Hell will freeze over" was in reference to his birthday, he said.
According to President Bill Perry in an e-mail sent out Monday, Walker – then unidentified – had returned to his hometown near Chicago and Perry assured students and faculty that the situation was under control.
Walker stated the status update in question was in regards to a birthday party that was supposed to happen Tuesday night in a bowling alley, but the university has so far declined to comment on the threatening messages, so it is uncertain whether the status in question was one of several.
In an e-mail sent out Tuesday, Perry said the university had been declared safe, but the ban was still in effect.
This raises questions about the Standards of Student Conduct. The Standards of Student Conduct say a student may be placed on interim suspension "if the student poses a likely threat" to Eastern. If campus security is no longer an issue, then why is Walker still banned from campus?
Furthermore, if Walker is placed on interim suspension, how will he come back? If he is enrolled, how will this affect his grades? Even though the university and the Eastern police confirmed Walker had left, fliers appeared around the athletic department that included a picture of Walker and stated he had been banned from campus along with the University Police Department’s phone number with instructions to call if Walker was seen on campus.
Though the university is doing its best to ensure campus safety, the issue raises some questions regarding free speech.
Are students now subject to discipline based on what appears on their Facebook profiles? If this is the case, there is much to be said about underage drinking and drug use that apparently goes unnoticed. What then? Will Eastern’s administrators begin trolling students’ Facebook profiles for offensive material?
For now, students may be petrified to post anything that expresses some discontent toward Eastern.
The university has done its job by ensuring the safety of the university, but this misunderstanding should be hammered out as soon as possible to ensure questions from the student body might be answered.
The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at: DENopinions@gmail.com.