Witnesses of the four-woman brawl that began in the cafeteria and escalated to the area in front of the bookstore on Oct. 27 expressed shock that an institution of higher learning was the scene of such an occurrence.
“I’m really appalled that this happened, especially at a college campus,” said ARC nursing student Iris Price, shortly after witnessing the fight.
And we should all be appalled.
Such instances are leading to the degradation of the value of a community college education through the tarnishing of the school’s reputation.
Students that come to class prepared to brawl are clearly demonstrating that they are not mature enough for a college education, and should be expelled.
Incidents like the “punching rampage” at the beginning of the semester beg that, for the safety of students and to ensure the protection of the learning environment, the district adopt a zero-tolerance policy on violence.
To be clear, zero-tolerance follows common sense — Obviously, students defending themselves should not be disciplined for doing so. But if a student punches their peers simply for “mean mugging” them, as cafeteria brawler I’yannah Pollard put it, they are sending a message: I am not emotionally mature enough to be here.
Sure, college is a place where young adults figure things out, and get a sense for how the world works. But there are also expectations in college.
You are expected to be responsible for your actions. You are expected not to show up to classes drunk or stoned. You are expected to have learned by now that hitting others is inappropriate. You are expected to be able to sit in a cafeteria without causing a police crisis just because you don’t like the way another girl looked at you.
Those that cannot abide by these expectations do not deserve to be here. At least not at this stage in their development.
According to current district regulations, the “student code of conduct” provides that students may be suspended or expelled for “continued disruptive behavior, continued willful disobedience, habitual profanity or vulgarity, or the open and persistent defiance of the authority of, or persistent abuse of, college personnel” and “Assault, battery, or any threat of force or violence upon a student or college personnel.”
The district, as with all colleges, regularly dismisses students for poor grades. These students may have extenuating circumstances. Learning disabilities, transportation issues, homelessness. All valid reasons. But if they do not meet the expectation, they are dismissed.
Students can then appeal their academic dismissals.
Why do we not hold students to a similar standard with violence?
ARC President Thomas Greene is currently creating a task force to deal with campus safety.
While this is a positive change, as it shows that the district is recognizing a problem and looking for solutions, it is a roundabout way to deal with an issue that has a simple solution.
Greene has spoken against adopting a zero-tolerance policy, stating, “We look at all the circumstances. Each individual incident needs to be examined on it’s own merits and not assume anything. That is due process. We want to have a fair, equitable and objective process of investigating possible violations of the student code of conduct. We follow those processes in every single case, without exception.”
“I go back to every situation, we need to follow our establish process and procedure for investigating,” Greene said. “And each case is unique, from that standpoint. The findings of the discipline officers, and the findings in terms of that, will be based on that investigation. If it’s found that a student committed a violent act … that behavior will not be tolerated.”
One of Greene’s first acts as president of ARC was to address campus safety, so it’s safe to say he recognizes that it’s a problem here.
Now, we need a solution. An enforceable policy that will directly address the problem.
Students unfortunately can’t be trusted to be “ambassadors” for change, as Scott Crow requested of us. A task force can’t adequately deal with or prevent violence.
The fear of consequences can.