The Domino Effect

Posted on 01 May 2013 by admin

Silence after student attack leaves campus with safety concerns, a letter of resignation and unanswered questions

By: KAVAHN MANSOURI
Editor-in-Chief

PART ONE: Student attacked in campus bathroom

On Thursday, April 18, Professor Linda Copeland’s ENG030 class started like any other 8 a.m. class starts, dreary eyed students sat in desks and began a day of learning. But one particular student was missing from Copeland’s class.

Former STLCC-Meramec student Jevon Mallory was not among his classmates that Thursday; he had other plans in mind for an unsuspecting victim.

At 8:08 a.m., student Blythe Grupe left her 8 a.m. class to use the restroom. Mallory attacked Grupe in the upstairs bathroom of the Communications South building after hiding in a bathroom stall waiting, looking for a “random person” to attack, Grupe said.

Grupe said she had not noticed anyone in the bathroom prior to the attack.

“About five minutes into the class I left to use the restroom,” Grupe said. “Right when I was about to wash my hands, and I hadn’t noticed anyone around or anything, someone had walked in and kind of slipped passed me. I realized someone was standing behind me, but at that point he had me in a headlock and was choking me with his arm.”

Mallory is being charged with a class D felony and was issued a $10,000 dollar bond, which has since been increased to $25,000. He is currently being held in St. Louis County Jail. Mallory returned to the campus Tuesday, April 23 and was apprehended by Campus Police and escorted to the Student Affairs Office. He reportedly had a scheduled meeting with Vice President of Student Affairs Linden Crawford.

Grupe said she had never met Mallory before and that the attack seemed random. She added that Mallory tried to calm her down during the attack in a “gentle” tone.

“He was saying things like ‘please be quiet’ and shushing me,” Grupe said. “Not in an aggressive way or an angry way but in a weird gentle tone, like there was some other motive.”

Grupe said she felt as if Mallory’s intent was to kill her. In the STLCC case report Campus Police Chief Paul Banta wrote that Mallory said he wanted to “vent his rage” and planned on “withdrawing her from life,” referring to Grupe.

Mallory attempted to cover up the attack when Grupe’s English instructor Aurora Hill confronted him, she said.

“Apparently he was standing over me when my professor walked in and she started asking him what he was doing,” Grupe said. “He lied and was saying that he saw me choking and was trying to help but she knew.”

Grupe said Mallory then tried to run from the bathroom.

“He then ran past her and she followed him out and called for police. She knew they were around because they were responding to something different,” Grupe said. “They came in and caught him.”

While Mallory has been taken into custody, Grupe said she is trying to get back to normal life.

“I’m getting better about talking about it; there’s no major injuries. I’m doing okay and trying to go back to classes and finish out the semester… normally,” Grupe said as her voice trembled.

Grupe said she was surprised to learn that Mallory returned to campus five days after the attack.

“I heard that from a student and I was wondering why I wasn’t alerted about that,” Grupe said. “Within the next two hours I was told he was charged and that he was in jail.”

An official memo from former President George Wasson was forwarded to faculty and staff at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, five days after the attack and one day after Grupe went to the media with ehr story.

Assistant Professor Betsy Morris said Grupe, a former student, was brave to speak up.

“Blythe Grupe is a young but resilient student who bravely and gracefully chose to speak out and to be heard this past week.  I hope her actions encourage other students who have been victims of violence in any aspect of their lives to find the strength to speak out, seek help, and persevere in the face of adversity.

Campus Police Chief Paul Banta said he is not sure what the suspect had in mind when he came to the campus.

“I don’t know what was in his mind, and I don’t want to talk about his interview with him because the prosecutor would rather not release the details of that interview to the media,” Banta said.

Banta said Mallory is unpredictable.

“In my opinion he’s unpredictable, I couldn’t make an educated guess what he’s going to do,” Banta said.

 

PART TWO: STLCC faces scrutiny in wake of attack, students react

Communications South restroom where attack took place remains closed | PHOTO: Alex Kendall

STLCC has received a slew of negative feedback on the handling of the April 18 attack of Blythe Grupe. After five days of silence, with two additional alleged victims of Jevon Mallory coming forward in the media and the resignation of Campus President George Wasson, Meramec faces an uphill battle to regain its former reputation.

STLCC Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey said students should not have to worry about their safety at the April 26 board of trustees meeting.

“The other thing that has gone out is a letter of apology from me as the chancellor of this institution telling everyone… students, faculty and staff — that this will not happen again, we will do a better job and that we value and want to protect our students and make sure that they are in an environment that is safe,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey also spoke at a press conference on Friday, April 26 where she took full responsibility for the mistakes made in handling the assault.

“We’ve learned from that and we will be moving forward with making sure we have safe and secure campuses and that when students come to us to learn they will be there to learn and get an education without worrying about those things they shouldn’t have to worry about,” Dorsey said.

Grupe said the silence about her attack was unfair to the students of Meramec.

“I definitely wish they would have [said something],” Grupe said. “I understand they can’t give out confidential information like names and specifics. But I really think that it was important that they would have let the students know that this happened.”

Grupes said her classmates were unaware of the attack.

“Other students I’ve seen were annoyed they just found out about it and that there wasn’t any mention of it before,” Grupe said. “I don’t think the school has addressed it at all.”

Mallory’s professor Linda Copeland said she first heard of the attack on April 23, and received no notification of Mallory’s expulsion other than Drop/Add Registration Activity on April 24. Copeland said her daughter, who lives in Kansas City, heard about the story and notified her of the attack.

On Tuesday, April 30, the Student Governance Council dedicated a portion of their bi-weekly meeting to discuss campus safety, Wasson’s resignation and the events of the past two weeks.

Student Natalie Smith said the college should notify faculty members when there is an incident on the campus.

“There needs to be a notification within 24 hours; that’s the biggest thing,” Smith said. “They need to notify the faculty members so the faculty members can notify the students. That’s one thing that was done in a previous instance where I felt like the campus wants me to make me feel safe.”

Smith said she found out about the attack from media, rather than the school.

“I found out through outside media what had happened at my school,” Smith said.

Student Jared Phillips said patrols should be 24/7 on campus.

“They’re doing it now [patrolling] but there’s no reason they can’t do it all the time. If it’s a matter of affordability; well you can’t put a price on our safety,” Phillips said.

Smith said she feels like the campus is prepared for certain scenarios, but is not completely safe.

“I feel like they’re prepared if there was a tornado, if there was a fire, if someone had a gun,” Smith said. “I feel like there needs to be something in place where [faculty] are told, even before we are, so they know how to handle the students asking questions as well. That was something one of my professors ran into.”

Jumping to conclusions can be dangerous, according to student Nick Clemens. He said the college should be careful in certain situations involving campus safety and privacy.

“If you look at the other side of this, what do we think everyone should be notified of? What should they be told? If there’s anytime someone who hasn’t had a warrant put out for them yet, and obviously in this case this person messed up and there should have been something put out there, in what circumstances do you want that to happen,” Clemens said. “Just because someone’s accused of a crime should everyone get their name? Should we get an email saying that something’s happened but who knows what and who knows who was involved or what happened.”

Clemens said not every situation is clear-cut when it comes to incidents on the campus.

“There are privacy concerns in something like this,” Clemens said. “This one is clear-cut. The ones in the future won’t be and that’s something you should look at before you make a blank decision, or make things overly cautious.”

Student Larron Vaughn said a part of the problem is the Meramec Campus Police.

“I mean no disrespect to the current security we have on campus. However, I think that it can be executed a little differently,” Vaughn said. “We call them security because they look like security. They don’t look like they’re cops, I don’t think they carry themselves that way.”

Vaughn said campus police officers should be knowledgeable about the culture of Meramec.

“If you’re in the Navy you learn how to swim. If you’re in the Air Force and you’re a pilot you should know how to fly a plane. If you’re on a college campus you should be very, very knowledgeable about that culture. I’d like to see police officers that speak to students, interact. I think they should be more present; I think that would help,” Vaughn said.

 

PART THREE: ‘He was one of us:’ Meramec President George Wasson resigns in aftermath of attack

George Wasson PHOTO: Kavahn Mansouri

STLCC-Meramec George Wasson tendered his resignation as Meramec president on Monday, April 29.

Wasson’s resignation came in the wake of a physical attack on Meramec student Blythe Grupe on April 19. Jevon Mallory, a now expelled Meramec student, attacked Grupe in the second floor women’s bathroom of Communications South.

At 5 p.m. on April 29 Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey sent a campus wide email announcing she had accepted the resignation of Wasson. In the email she stressed the safety of STLCC students and the appointment of Wildwood Campus President Pam McIntyre as interim Meramec Campus President.

Wasson was asked to remain available for “unfinished actions” started during his time as president, and was placed on paid administrative leave until his contract expires on June 30, 2013, according to Delancey Smith, Director of Public Information and Marketing

Vice President of Academic Affairs Andrew Langrehr said he was shocked by Wasson’s resignation.

“I’m a little shocked; a little shell shocked right now,” Langrehr said. “It’s a rude awakening. This is someone who’s been on this campus for I think nearly 30 years in a variety of capacities. To see him exit and getting this email is going be a shock to a lot of people.”

Shock spread through the campus Monday evening as faculty, staff and administration received the Chancellor’s email. Vice President of Student Affairs Linden Crawford said she could not believe Wasson had resigned.

“I’m stunned. I’m absolutely stunned,” Crawford said. “I have a lot of positive experiences with President Wasson and I find this to be just shocking.”

Crawford said she did not fully understand why Wasson resigned but was very sad.

“I don’t understand,” Crawford said. “I think we’re all capable, strong individuals but right now I’m just very sad. I’m very sad for President Wasson and I’m … very sad.”

Langrehr said that although the college is taking a beating in the media, the blame cannot be put on one person.

“Sort of the aftermath of it is what the focus is getting to be. The college is sort of taking a beating in the media right now,” Langrehr said. “I feel like there’s plenty of people who feel like there’s blame to go around about how it was handled.”

Student Governance President Philip Oehlerking said the chancellor should release a statement on why Wasson resigned.

“I think what the chancellor should probably do within the next couple days is release some sort of press information about the reasons why he resigned,” Oehlerking said. “I think if it were something personal or not related to this than we don’t need to know. But if it was, the students and the faculty would like to know.”

Coordinator of Enrollment Management Kim Fitzgerald said Wasson’s resignation had a direct link to last week’s events.

“I think it’s incredibly unexpected. I think it’s pretty obvious there’s a direct link to the recent incidents,” Fitzgerald said. “Having been here for over 25 years you see a lot of things happen and you see a lot of people come and go. You see a lot of people go out in flames.”

Fitzgerald said the campus faces many adjustments after the resignation.

“I’m still pretty surprised. George has been there for a long time and unfortunately longevity doesn’t really get you a whole lot when it comes to matters like this,” Fitzgerald said. “I think it’s going to be an adjustment. I think people were comfortable with George being there – maybe to a certain extent people can be too comfortable.”

Langrehr said the campus is losing someone who had a passion for all things Meramec.

“You’re going to lose someone who was passionate about the Meramec campus who has been a faculty member and a variety of leadership roles on this campus,” Langrehr said. “Someone who rose to the level of president because of the support of his colleagues here on the campus.”

Langrehr said the campus will be blindsided by the news.

“I can’t really think of all the ways people are going to react to it – but I think shock is the best word,” Langrehr said. “I think there’s going to be some people who are sad, some who are mad, people who are kind of hurt, people who are going to want to know and from the way this looks he’s not going to be here to talk about it.”

In a challenging time, and in the wake of losing a president and vice president three years ago, the campus will feel the loss of Wasson, Langrehr said.

“It’s going to be hard on the campus to absorb this news, to absorb change to recognize we’re going to have to go through another [president] search when we just went through this not two years ago,” Langrehr said. “That was a difficult time for the campus. We lost a president and a vice president in a short amount of time.”

Langrehr said that Wasson was a important piece to the puzzle of Meramec.

“I think there’s a significant hole. He’s one of us. He’s part of the campus,” Langrehr said. “A number of people have been here a long time but having a president that has that … that’s going to be a loss. I think it’s going to be a significant loss at a challenging time.”

Oehlerking said he has heard several different theories to why Wasson resigned.

“Honestly, I think I would like to reserve judgment until I hear all the facts,” Oehlerking said. “There’s some theories or stories that chancellor Dorsey forced him out and there’s some that say he wasn’t even on campus when everything happened so he shouldn’t have been ultimately responsible for what had happened. Or there’s other stories that are going on that say he was directly involved trying to sweep this under the rug.”

Jacob Hight, a student who works in the student life office, said the college should not look for scapegoats and instead should look for solutions.

“Horrible things are always going to happen and we should do our best to make sure they don’t happen. There’s never going to be a situation that’s so perfect an individual isn’t going to circumvent the safeguard of a certain place,” Hight said. “I think attention need to be paid to what really needs to be done instead of looking for scapegoats.”

Langrehr said Interim President Pam McIntyre, Ph.D. will be knowledgeable to the campus, but that Meramec must lick its wounds and adjust to the change.

“People know that person pretty well because she worked on this campus for a long time,” Langrehr said. “She knows the campus and knows a lot of people here but there’s going to be some healing and some adjustments we’ll need to go through.”

Langrehr added that there are a lot of issues the campus faces outside of the resignation that will have to be discussed.

“People will have a lot of questions about the things we’re in the middle of,” Langrehr said. “We’re talking about potential reorganization of the division and we’re talking about shifting some renovation and some departments around; where they’re located. We’ll have to bring people up to speed.”

Crawford said that perspective like Wasson’s cannot be replaced.

“It’s a perspective that can’t be replaced with any other leader,” Crawford said. “Many leaders can come to an institution but to have the kind of history and perspective and knowledge of the campus community, the culture, the students, the course work, the state legislation, the issues facing us. I think that’s what we’re losing. I think we’re losing a significant resource for our campus.”

Fitzgerald said a lesson can be learned about student safety through the events of the past week.

“I think if we didn’t have procedures in place to deal with these kind of things – I think that’s pretty serious,” Fitzgerald said. “I think if we’re talking about the safety of students that should be the primary focus. I think if the lesson that we have to learn to get to that place then that’s just how it is.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Frances/1703966077 Mark Frances

    This issue fell right into the cracks that were waiting to open its jaws like a “great white”. Dorsey is a kinder, gentler version of the previous “hell for leather” black activist radical chancellor who was nudged out of the way. She came in targeting the white male culture and made the well beloved long term wrestling coach a “notch on her gun”. This is all about political correctness and the attempt to change the culture at Meramec. What was Jevon Mallory even doing on campus long term or for this particular incident? In the vision of “The Last of the Mohicans”, the Iroquois are just waiting to “eat the heart” of the British general.

    • One Who Knows

      Chancellor Myrtle E B Dorsey is ultimately responsible for the lack of communication about this event. She has centralized all college police to answer to the one police chief who answers to her directly.
      She had this information the day it occurred and decided not to issue any warnings. She did a television interview and admitted that it is her responsibility ultimately for safety at the college. And when the story wouldn’t go away she threw President George Wasson under the bus rather than admit her mistakes.
      Chancellor Dorsey should resign immediately. If she doesn’t then the STLCC Board of Trustees needs to remove her now.

  • Lilly

    I am very sorry to see George Wasson go over this security issue.

  • One Who Knows

    Chancellor Myrtle E B Dorsey is ultimately responsible for the lack of communication about this event. She has centralized all college police to answer to the one police chief who answers to her directly.
    She had this information the day it occurred and decided not to issue any warnings. She did a television interview and admitted that it is her responsibility ultimately for safety at the college. And when the story wouldn’t go away she threw President George Wasson under the bus rather than admit her mistakes.
    Chancellor Dorsey should resign immediately. If she doesn’t then the STLCC Board of Trustees needs to remove her now.

  • georgesand

    Why is this not being prosecuted as a Hate Crime. Male in Women’s room was obviously looking to attack a woman. Why are only black v white crimes and gay victims thought of as Hate Crimes?

    • don’t be silly

      someone with mental instability attacking a random woman in a bathroom is not a hate crime. Allegedly it seems his intent was to kill her because the voices in his head told him to do so. Now, if a mentally “sane” person spray-painted the word cunts on the door of the women’s bathroom, that would be a hate crime.

  • Diaspora

    What upset me most was that no one told us this happened. Not until 2-3 days after it happened—he was still allowed to come back in that time; he could have easily done it again!

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