Dr. Daniel Papp graduated Dartmouth College with a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs in 1969, and then a Ph.D. in the same field from the University of Miami in 1973. He now serves as the President of Kennesaw State University (KSU).
You are no doubt aware of Abby Dawson’s conduct towards Kevin Bruce, and the surrounding controversy now branded with the hashtag #ItsBiggerThanKSU. As someone who has experienced similar treatment by faculty members, I find it is necessary to voice my disappointment with Kennesaw State University.
Between the experiences of Kevin Bruce, myself, and other students who experienced hardships with faculty, it appears that KSU is not responsive to student interests unless it improves their image.
After being unjustly accused of harassment for writing a single email to a professor, and then watching Abby Dawson bully Kevin Bruce, I closed my eyes and wished more than anything else that KSU would learn that a harassment accusation can itself be a form of harassment. Threatening to call the police on a student is a means of abusing that student. Your students need to trust that KSU will care about their ability to peacefully pursue academic achievement. and they can’t do that so long as bullies on campus can use a dial pad as a weapon with impunity.
We don’t deserve to live in real fear of the cops and lawyers that watch over this campus because a few faculty members decide to live in fake fear of students.
Zen Men is now publicly encouraging students to videotape every confrontation with faculty members within parameters deemed reasonable by applicable laws. As the hashtag states, this is bigger than KSU, and it’s certainly bigger than poor advising. Please understand that more reckless accusations by faculty make KSU look worse, if not totally negligent. We need to hold more staff members accountable for their behavior, and we are willing to resist threats to our well-being.
Your students prepared a list of demands based on this sentiment:
The list goes in the right direction, but it is missing an item that I would like to propose: Draft a new policy establishing when one can call campus security in a non-emergency. One grows tired of watching people run to the cops instead of solving their own problems with discussion and cooperation. We need to make it harder to call the cops over non-issues, especially if an accused student does not behave in a way that warrants police intervention.
I volunteered to release all of documentation in my possession surrounding KSU to the media, and I have asked the staff of A Voice for Men to republish some old articles demonstrating flaws in KSU’s programs and procedures. I ask the public to watch KSU’s response carefully, because we don’t want any more hand-waving when discussing our education.
Anyone can call KSU police with any complaint, and with easy access comes easy misuse. We should not have to ask, but please exercise your executive powers to prevent faculty from unjustly intimidating students with unwarranted threats of police intervention.
I would applaud KSU’s decision to place Dawson on administrative leave, but given my own experience with abusive faculty and a corresponding lack of closure, is hard to know if KSU is fully sincere in its commitment to the students in assisting Kevin Bruce. We only want KSU to respect its students, and there is no respect where faculty will gleefully initiate force by proxy on a hair-trigger.
Disciplining Dawson is not enough. You still have other faculty who behave in this same manner, so we need you to take proactive measures to end further abuse of police resources and counteract the developing culture of fear, animosity and presumption poisoning our campus. Knowing that the student body is now mobilizing, it is my hope that you and all under you govern yourselves not just according to policy, but also to context.
KSU is trying to evolve beyond its reputation as a commuter school as one of the nations 50 largest universities in the United States, but over the past couple of years it has fallen under controversy for the sole reason that manipulative bullies are on payroll. The fact that Kevin Bruce faced Dawson under the circumstances is bad enough, but similar situations happened before, and does not bode well for our trust in KSU.
I ask, as one of your students, to lead us into the future of education away from this dystopian nightmare.
This post originally appeared on ZenMen.org.