My response to Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis

OU students and alumni everywhere, here is the e-mail that was sent out to every parent of an OU student regarding Palmerfest:

“Dear OHIO Parents and Families,

The purpose of my message is to seek your help in sending a clear message to students, reinforcing the importance of smart, civil, safe behaviors. My request parallels that of Ryan Lombardi, our Dean of Students, who has made you aware of the unauthorized multi-house parties in Athens that have historically occurred in off-campus neighborhoods each spring.

On Saturday, April 28th, a number of Ohio University students and their guests engaged in dangerous and illegal behaviors, which have been widely reported in newspapers and on websites. This media coverage has “opened a window” to Ohio University and the Athens community, revealing images that are offensive, frightening, and embarrassing to our students, our distinguished alumni, our local community, and the parents and families of OHIO students and graduates.

We are better than this!  People that live in the Athens community, whether for just a few years or for a lifetime, reject these behaviors and their distortion of what our community is about.  The City of Athens and Ohio University join with your students and their friends and neighbors in condemning this behavior, which posed life-threatening risks and harmed our community.

Last week, our Student Senate issued a resolution condemning these dangerous behaviors.  The Senate resolution supports the stance of the overwhelming majority of our students, faculty, and staff who find this type of behavior destructive to the culture of Ohio University and the relationship that binds the University and the City of Athens.

We have scheduled a Town Hall Meeting for 5 pm this Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at the West Portico of Memorial Auditorium, on the College Green.  Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl and I have invited all community members, including students, to attend.  We will be joined by other University and City leaders to discuss these serious issues and answer questions. Please encourage your son or daughter to attend.

Ohio University, the City of Athens, our students – your sons and daughters – are better than this and we must show it.

Cordially,

Roderick J. McDavis

President

Ohio University”

If you are like me, this e-mail was not only unnecessary, but ridiculous. We can not sit back and have our University’s president degrade us like this, share your voice! I have e-mailed him my response, and here is what it reads:

President McDavis,With all due respect, the e-mail that was sent out to all the parents of Ohio University students was not only overly demeaning, but 100% unnecessary and untrue. I understand that you have a job to do, and rebuilding our reputation as something more than a party school is a top priority, but responding to the incidents of Palmerfest in that manner is not at all the right thing to do.Saying that “a number of Ohio University students and their guests engaged in dangerous and illegal behaviors, which have been widely reported in newspapers and on websites,” is an egregious stretch of the truth. If you consider police officials abusing their power and tear gassing innocent students “dangerous behavior” on the students behalf, then yes sir, you are correct. If you consider one of my fellow students getting a police baton to the face and being sent to the hospital for, soberly I might add, crossing the street “dangerous behavior,” then yes sir, you are correct. If you consider undercover officers running into a bar and putting myself in handcuffs because they thought my ID from Michigan was fake “illegal behavior,” even though I am 21 years old, then yes sir, you are correct.

But most importantly, you are attempting to put a scare tactic out to all of our parents and have them diminish their image of our college, and that sir, is dangerous behavior.

Every single student that is lucky enough to call themselves an Ohio University Bobcat has an immense amount of respect for their college and their campus, and maybe you are not out enough on our campus to realize this.

As a leader of my organization, and a representative for all of greek life, the disrespect here is absolutely undeniable. Saying that we embarrassed our local community… Well sir, let me state my rebuttal on that statement. While you collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in perhaps the poorest community in Ohio, we (and by we, I mean all of greek life, as well as many other student organizations) are out finding new ways to make our community better. Tens of thousands of dollars are collected every year that go out to respected charities, as well as our community to help rebuild and make it better.

A week ago, all the fraternities on campus pitched in to help a student who was affected by the tornado last year. The kid has almost no money, works 2 jobs, plays 3 sports, and is a great example of perseverance. His dream was to have a suit for prom. So we all helped out by purchasing a suit, shoes, a watch, cologne, hair gel, etc. But that wasn’t in your e-mail was it? Just this Saturday, my fraternity raised hundreds of dollars to help students with disabilities, but that wasn’t in your e-mail was it? Next weekend, Sigma Kappa is holding a golf outing in which they will raise over a thousand dollars for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, but that wasn’t in your e-mail was it? Earlier this year, the language department held a can drive that ended up raising an 8-foot-tall pyramid of canned goods for our struggling community, but that wasn’t in your e-mail was it? These are just a few examples, and believe me, I could go all day.

President McDavis, I respect your position, I really do, but handling the situation in the way you have is not even close to the right one. Obviously, there are students that made poor decisions that day, I’m not denying that. But you are looking at a number around 25 students. Deciding to send a message with that aggressive of a tone, and placing it upon 20,000 students is absolutely absurd.

Some drunken student that was visiting attempted to set a house on fire, not an OU student. Out of all the arrests made during fest season, not even half of them are OU students. The aggravated rioting charge from two years ago during palmerfest, which is perhaps the most aggressive offense in my college career, was not an OU student. And most importantly, the people that have the dearest respect, and absolute love for this campus and our community, are OU students.

My greatest fear as a student here is that my degree will be diminished by our school’s reputation; however, having the interview skills to find a way to turn our social life into a positive is what helps me realize this will never be problem.

But having our University’s president exaggerating the actions of OU students is in no way helping the 20,000 of us who share this same fear of our degree’s being somehow lessened. You sir, are better than that.

Once again, with all due respect,

Shane Darrow
SD195408@ohio.edu
President – Pi Kappa Phi: Theta Chi Chapter

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