by Maggie Cabrera
As many of you know, I was the campaign manager for the Dollar Jeter campaign.
We wanted disciplinary reform, and care for student mental health. I have been confronted with a situation this summer that has reaffirmed my belief that Washburn needed change ten fold.
I will be completely transparent: My mental health was rapidly deteriorating at the end of the previous semester, and in the world of college, alcohol can be an easy fix.
Was it right? No. Does my mental health excuse my behavior? No.
Do I deserve to get hit with an alcohol violation on May 18th, after discussing with the residential coordinator that a policy violation wasn’t necessary? Absolutely not.
On May 18th, 11 days after the dorms were officially closed, I received a letter through my school email: an alcohol violation. Of course I wasn’t checking my school email in the summer, so the time to email back to schedule a meeting came and went. As I combed over emails and letters that were sent to an inbox that I had no intention of checking until August, I came to discover that I am required to pay fines, take classes, and write essays. There was every opportunity to call me, text me, or otherwise get ahold of me but I still discovered the consequences far too late. I would be more understanding had I not had a conversation with my residential coordinator.
There were 2 complaints from those living in my hall about my behavior and concerns of my mental health. While the content of these complaints were entirely valid, when I talked to my residential coordinator, I thought we had come to an agreement. When I learned that I was potentially disrupting the learning and environments of my close friends in the hall, I immediately vowed to take my finals at home, begin my summer early, leave my friends behind, and move 2 1⁄2 hours back home that day. I had confided in my residential coordinator that I was having mental health issues, and that I had used alcohol on occasion to cope. I was told that moving home early would suffice, and that they were there to help.
Now I understand why they say get everything in writing.
This is just one example of the flaws of Washburn disciplinary policy, and how it punishes people rather than helps them. My personal experience with disciplinary policy might have been unfair and inauthentic, but in ranting my experience to my close friend, Harrison Dollar, we learned that it is patently unjust.
He received an alcohol violation last semester. I will not pretend like it is justifiable, and as we have become closer we have become better at preventing such behavior, but his situation is worth discussing. My punishments were fines, courses, and papers, but Harrison was barred from leadership positions. Not only just in student government, but across the board.
If these attacks weren’t targeted, then why do they differ? If Washburn’s discipline policy was fair and just, then why did Harrison receive a different punishment for the same crime, and why was my trust betrayed in seeking help. These injustices are what made us run in the first place, and they have reminded us what we’re fighting for.
Writer’s Note: This is an emotionally charged article, as it was written at the beginning of the summer, but I believe that our perspectives are just as valid as others. That is not to say that we don’t make mistakes. Our alcohol use was our mistake, and we have been dealing with our issues just as we have been embracing our strengths. Over the course of the summer, I have recognized the signs of addiction, and have since stopped consuming alcohol in any capacity. Harrison has done the same. This article is not about our specific personal goals to cut down on alcohol consumption, it is about the University’s unfairness in their messaging and policy, and in how they discipline the student body.