The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Guilt by location

OP/ED
 Guilt by location
Guilt by location

Guilt by location

Byron Sanders was the president of Program Council, an AfricanAmerican Student Senator, a student representative to the Board ofTrustees, Black Awareness Committee chair for Program Council, anAARO leader, a WOW leader, a Corral leader, a member of the StudentCenter Governing Board, a member of the Entertainment Fund Board,an outstanding student in the classroom, a mentor and, mostimportantly, a friend.

Byron Sanders was also expelled from Southern MethodistUniversity on the grounds of hazing and assault. After a decisionmade by the judicial council last week, Byron will be separatedfrom SMU on a permanent basis, not able to step foot on campuswithout the express written permission of the Office of the Dean ofStudent Life, and have the expulsion permanently recorded on hisacademic transcript.

Many students find the judicial board’s choice ofpunishment harsh and saddening. Those who know Byron know anintelligent young man who devoted his time to enriching SMUstudents’ lives. Sacrificing sleep and a social life, Byronparticipated in countless organizations and held many leadershippositions. Byron touched the hearts of many students, encouragingsuccess through kind words and leading by his outstandingexample.

Numerous students hold leadership positions in SMU’sorganizations because Byron showed them the joys of selflesscontribution to their community (I am one of them). Scores ofstudents are here because Byron went out of his way to recruit themand made efforts to keep those students here. Those who know Byronknow that he would never support an activity that would endangerthe mental or physical health of another person. Assault? Anyonewho knows Byron knows that he is not capable of harming anyone.

The judicial board made the decision to expel Byron because ofhis presence during the unfortunate hazing incident that occurredlast November. Though Byron does not face criminal charges, he andEkbert Parker, who also does not face criminal charges, receivedthe same expulsion punishment as two students who were criminallycharged for the incident. Byron’s stellar list ofaccomplishments and community involvement did little to prove hisvalue as a member of the SMU community to the judicial council thatchose to punish him through the ultimate academic death penalty— expulsion.

Why was Byron expelled? According to SMU’s policies,Byron’s presence in the same apartment where the hazingincident occurred makes him a passive participant. Because ofByron’s “passive” involvement, he received thesame expulsion punishment as the men who were actively involved andcriminally charged in this incident.

What does this mean to you? It could happen to any of us! If youare in the presence of anything the university deems illegal,regardless of your degree of participation or knowledge, you toocould face the judicial board and receive the same punishment of aguilty party. Layman’s terms: if your roommate is caughthiding an illegal substance in your residence hall, according toSMU, you’re just as guilty as your roommate. Guess what? Your4.0 GPA, campus involvement and community service won’t meana thing to the judicial board.

What can you do to protect yourself? To change these policies,you should talk to a member of the Student Senate and/or submit aproposed change to the Student Code of Conduct Handbook. We need tomake sure this does not happen to anyone else.

What about Byron? After the decision was made to expel Byron,some students cried, some students considered transferring, andsome students just got angry. They wanted to know what they coulddo to help the young man who had helped them. President Turner hasthe power to help Byron.

According to the student handbook, the president of theuniversity is authorized, at his discretion, to review all thedecisions of the university judiciary, including the UniversityJudicial Council. Such review includes the power to take any actiondeemed appropriate, including reversing, amending or remanding withinstructions such decisions. The president is authorized to act athis sole discretion in conducting such review and in deciding whataction is appropriate (Section 1.0). Though President Turneralready had the opportunity to review and comment on Byron’scase, perhaps President Turner was not aware of Byron’sefforts to enrich the SMU community. If President Turner knew howmany students Byron touched, perhaps he would feel inclined toexercise his power of review.

If students are the heart of our university, students like ByronSanders are the blood that pumps through SMU’s veins. We arecrippled without you, Byron. If SMU prides itself on the quality ofits students, it cannot afford to oust a student that symbolizeseverything SMU claims to stand for.

We must urge President Turner to realize Byron’s value toSMU and reconsider the judicial board’s harsh choice ofpunishment. Petitions will be circulating throughout campus,contact me for more information.

 

Cheryl Tenbush is a senior business, pre-med and Englishtriple major. She may be reached at [email protected].

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