Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Unwelcoming Atmosphere on Campus

I just received an email from the leader of the Voices of Africa group that became part of the discussion of the A-T april fools editions.

If you remember, Miles Maguire noted that one of the group members had been cited for smoking marijuana on campus when they were performing here. He used this as an example of how our campus was unfriendly to people of color.

It appears that the result of Miles publicizing the behavior of that member (and my blogging about it) led to her resignation from the group. The group itself was not very welcoming to violations of the law while on tour.

Here is the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Please Post

9 A.M. EDT, Thursday, May 31, 2007
VOA RESPONSE TO UWO POLICE REPORT: CASE # 07073-1
PLEASE POST
IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION THAT A UWO POLICE REPORT WAS ENTERED IN RESPONSE TO A CITATION THAT WAS ISSUED TO ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF VOA WHILE ON CAMPUS AT GRUEHAUGEN HALL ON MARCH 14, 2007. THIS CITATION WAS LISTED IN THE TITAN ADVANCE APRIL FOOL’S EDITION AND BECAME THE TOPIC OF SUBSEQUENT MEETINGS ON CAMPUS, ALONG WITH BEING POSTED IN THE LAKE WINEBLOGO ONLINE BLOG.
IN RESPONSE TO THIS CITATION AND THE SUBSEQUENT DISCUSSION THAT ENSUED VOA ISSUES THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT.
1. At the time of that this citation was issued, VOA was on tour in the Appleton, Neenah and Oshkosh cities of WI and were housed as guests in the North Gruenhagen Conference Center, 208 Osceola Avenue, Oshkosh, WI.
2. VOA was not aware of any infraction made by any of our Members until May 6, 2007 approximately 7 weeks later when we received an email from Muriel A. Hawkins, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor, Center for Academic Support and Diversity, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
3. The Ensemble member in question, Okomfo Nyo Agyiriwah, AKA Regina Cantave was performing with VOA but did not alert us to the full extent of the situation or the investigation of her room, nor did she tell us of her impending citation.
4. VOA investigated this matter further, contacted the OWU Police Department and requested a written report which it received on May 10, 2007.
5. From the inception of VOA, we have had a harsh and stringent policy pertaining to any member participating in any illegal substances while performing with us; in housing provided by us or our event producers; or in their private lives. Once this knowledge becomes available, VOA policy is to suspend the member indefinitely or until appropriate rehabilitation has taken place.
6. Ms. Cantave, has voluntarily resigned from the group. Her position is that she has been falsely accused and will pursue legal measures to resolve this matter in the not too distant future. We have accepted her resignation entered on May 8, 2007.
7. We sincerely apologize for any problems this incident may have caused for the campus residents, staff and administration of UWO, the employees at North Gruenhagen Conference Center, the UWO police department and any other parties known or unknown.
8. We further hope that this will play no part in any future engagements that may occur between our Ensemble and the community of Oshkosh, Neenah, Appleton or there about.

Submitted: May 29, 2007
By: Nana Akosua Baakan Agyiriwah, Managing Director & Founder
The “Voices Of Africa” Choral & Percussion Ensemble
Contact: Nana Akosua Baakan Agyiriwah, tel. 215-386-0088 email: nanabaakan@voicesofafrica.net

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know that SOMEONE has their head screwed on straight and understands what "breaking the law" means ... That whole "unwelcoming" baloney was just a red herring and Maguire ought to be ashamed of himself for ever bringing it up.

S.B. said...

Well, it wasn't in the April Fools edition, at least I don't think it was. If the citation was issued March 14, it should have been in our Busted section a lot earlier than April 2.

But, whatever.

Working To Make A Living said...

yep, this is a tight ass campus. the immense issues discussed on the local blogs makes the old balloon knot just quiver.

Miles Maguire said...

One thing that a university should do is to provide an appreciation for the complexity of situations.

The question of whether the UW-O campus is welcoming or not is not so easily resolved as this posting suggests.

Nor is it true that the law is some hard and fast construct that is fairly and equally applied. (Don’t kid yourself. The contrary evidence is all around you.)

With respect to complexity, if you go back to the infamous April Fool’s A-T episode, you might find that there is more to be known about the person who set off the discussion. While she described herself as a nontraditional student (and she is one), she is also an employee of the university who was recently recognized for her length of service. Her position in the administration adds an interesting (and complicating) context for her comments.

Ronald Kane Hardy said...

I think it is kind of ironic that when our students get busted with marijuana they get a citation and go back to class the next day, but this woman lost her job.

I hope they reconsider and give her her job back. That is kind of harsh.

lammers said...

miles maguire wrote: "Nor is it true that the law is some hard and fast construct that is fairly and equally applied."

Stipulated. You say to fix the problem by letting more people get away with breaking the law. I say fix it by holding *everyone* to the same stringent standard. Your approach is like saying, I'm halfway 'cross the lake, but can't swim it all, so let's go back. I say, Stick to it and go the distance.

ronald kane hardy wrote: "I hope they reconsider and give her her job back. That is kind of harsh."

On the other hand, if I read the press release correctly, this was the group's stated policy, right up front. She knew the penalty going into it. Actions have consequences. "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime."

And is it a "job" in the sense of how one earns his daily bread? I assumed it was more of an intense hobby.

Janine said...

Lammers, I so agree with you about the up-front rules. I was just talking to a friend today who is having a hard time dealing with her adult child who is living at home. The biggest problem that this family has is ----- rules that are not consistently enforced. If rules (laws) aren't consistently and straightforwardly enforced then that means there are ways to get around them and ways to manipulate the system.

The woman knew what the rules were, she violated them, she must face the consequences of the violation ---- that is called the game of Life.

Gary said...

I'm so old (yea, one of those) that I remember the $5 ticket, similar to a parking ticket, that was issued for smoking or possession of small amounts in the city of Madison. Seems everyone lived through that just fine. What a waste of tax money, time, and her talents.

Anonymous said...

If she can't follow the law she doesn't deserve to have a job at an institution of higher learning...it's that simple.

Anonymous said...

So then what should be the consequences for students who get busted with pot? Should they be suspended from school?

This woman will have a hefty fine for possession, AND she lost her job. A student will also have a hefty fine for possession, AND they could be kicked out of school, right? Wrong.

Both cases are double penalties for a single crime.

Janine said...

The difference is this .... #5 of the statement states "5. From the inception of VOA, we have had a harsh and stringent policy pertaining to any member participating in any illegal substances while performing with us; in housing provided by us or our event producers; or in their private lives. Once this knowledge becomes available, VOA policy is to suspend the member indefinitely or until appropriate rehabilitation has taken place.".

The woman knew what the consequences were when she came to the UW-O campus. It isn't double penalties, it is the consequence to breaking this particular rule.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"So then what should be the consequences for students who get busted with pot? Should they be suspended from school? "

Maybe we should...But I definately think we should take away any financial aid they are receiving. If you have money for drugs you don't need money from the state or federal government.

Duck in Sauce said...

I agree with anonymous in that if you have money for drugs you should loose you financial aid. In fact I would expand that to those who go to any foreign country on spring break or drive a new car.

Anonymous said...

Federal laws pertaining to many types of financial aid already require reporting of ANY drug related convictions, and result in the potential loss of any grants and student aid. However, the reporting requirement places the responsibility for reporting on the grantee via "self reporting", you can imagine how well that works. Some universities (mainly private) actually "drop a dime" on students convicted of drug offenses by reporting to the granting authorities themselves...

Anonymous said...

BRAVO to those universities. Our tax money should not be wasted keeping "HEADS" well-supplied in the green stuff.