Target: State University of New York College at Oswego President Deborah Stanley
Goal: Apologize for unnecessary and exaggerated treatment of a student for trying to complete his assignment
Alex Myers, an exchange student from Australia, recently found himself on the verge of suspension after events sparked from an email interview request spun out of control. The State University of New York College at Oswego (SUNY at Oswego) believed Myers displayed disruptive behavior and even felt university police involvement was necessary.
Myers was given a routine class assignment to do a profile on a public figure and chose SUNY Oswego men’s hockey coach Ed Gosek. In a routine start, Myers emailed some of the coach’s colleagues from Cornell University, Canisius College, and SUNY Cortland. The email that Myers sent was fairly generic; he began by introducing himself as an employee at the Office of Public affairs and explained he was currently writing a profile on Ed Gosek. Myers then asked three questions and ended the email instructing the recipient to be as forthcoming as they would like, specifically explaining the remarks do not have to be positive.
Events then got blown way out of proportion. Cornell head Coach Mike Schafer fired back almost immediately claiming the last line of the email was offensive. Myers replied, apologetically explaining he was merely letting him know the piece he was writing was not going to be a puff piece. The next day Myers was given a hand-delivered letter from the president and suspended indefinitely pending a hearing. The letter stated he would have to remove all of his belongings from his dorm and move out be the next day. He was not allowed to enter the campus or any of its buildings or he would be subject to arrest. The university police were sent a copy of the letter as well.
Myers was charged with two offenses. The first was dishonesty for identifying himself as an employee at the Office of Public Affairs where he was interning. He admittedly apologized, claiming he was so used to introducing himself as that for pieces he would write for the internship. The second charge was for disruptive behavior. The code of conduct at the university cites this as harassment, intimidation, stalking, domestic violence, or creating a hostile environment through discrimination or bias toward any individual or group.
At the hearing, the school ultimately dropped the disruptive behavior charge and spared Myers the suspension. He was issued a warning and ordered to write a story for the school newspaper about what he had learned from his experience and write a letter of apology to both Gosek and the other coaches he contacted. His internship with the Office of Public Affairs has been terminated also.
The actions that SUNY Oswego decided to take again Myers for one harmless line in an email were outrageous. Myers was treated like a criminal from the start, with threats of suspension and police involvement. These actions escalated very quickly and should only be reserved for students that pose a real threat to the school. Sign the petition demanding Alex Myers receive the apology he deserves for the way he was treated through this trial.
Dear President Stanley,
In an attempt to complete a school assignment, Alex Myers found himself in danger of suspension, He was trying to gain perspective for a profile piece he was doing on Hockey Coach Ed Gosek by emailing other coaches in the area to get their opinions on his coaching techniques. Myers ended his email explaining the other coaches should not feel compelled to only give positive remarks, as he did not want to write a puff piece. After one of the coaches took offense to this comment, the school sprung into action. Myers was told he needed to vacate his dorm and would not be allowed on campus property until further notice; the police were also informed of the issue.
The charges brought against Alex Myers misrepresent the actual severity of his case. Myers took responsibility for not being honest about his status at the Office of Public Affairs, but at no point in this situation was he ever guilty of disruptive behavior. Myers has done everything you ask of him, including an assignment for the school newspaper describing what he had learned from all of this. After all that you put him through, he deserves an apology. Please issue Alex Myers a sincere apology, restoring a little bit of faith in the disciplinary system at SUNY Oswego.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: geograph.org.uk