by Micah Wilkins, Echo online writer
Freshman David Enge was throwing pots and displaying his ceramics pieces for fellow community members attending the college’s Spring Arts Festival April 15.
Around 3 p.m. he looked up from his work to see one of the public safety officials approaching his table.
“I see Rick [Hayes, public safety supervisor] walking down the steps, and I’m thinking to myself this is my chance to shine, in all my glory, to show him that I’m not just some trouble maker,” David Enge said. “I felt like this guy was about to come look at my pots.”
Hayes was there for other business, though.
Enge stood to shake Hayes’s hand.
“Rick, how are you doing?”
“David Enge,” Hayes replied, mispronouncing his last name, saying ‘Enje’ rather than ‘En-Gee,’ “You’re going to have to come with me.”
Enge, glancing at the people around his station, who were observing his pottery-throwing, resisted. “I can’t go anywhere,” he said. “There’s 15 people standing around watching me.”
“No, you’re leaving,” Hayes insisted. “Let’s go.”
Enge stopped what he was doing to get into the public safety vehicle.
“At this point, I don’t know what’s going on,” Enge said. “I’m clueless. Because I thought this bullet thing blew over, I didn’t know that was why I was being taken away.”
According to first-year student David Enge, he was dismissed from school that Friday afternoon after a round of .22 caliber live ammunition was found in his room during a fire drill a week prior.
The college’s student handbook states that “North Carolina law explicitly forbids possession of weapons on property owned, used, or operated by an educational institution. College policy prohibits all weapons including guns, rifles. . .bullets. . .”
Enge was written up for this rule violation April 5 and a week later, public safety officials escorted Enge from the Spring Arts Festival to the office of Dean of Students Deb Myers. According to Enge, Myers and he discussed his various community violations, and told him that he was being dismissed from the college.
Upon being told that, Enge was incredibly upset, and began to express some verbally abusive behavior.
After yelling and cursing at Myers, Enge said, he heatedly walked out of the room with public safety at his heels.
“I’m completely blown away by this,” Enge said.
According to Enge, he was given no warning that he was in danger of being expelled from the college.
According to Director of Public Safety Terry Payne, in years past, when students have been dismissed from the college, they have usually been contacted by the Dean of Students days in advance of their dismissal to schedule a time to meet and discuss why they’re being dismissed. If the student in question neglects to respond to the Dean of Students, public safety is then ordered to find the student and bring them to the dean’s office.
According to Enge, he received no e-mail, no warning of his dismissal or any other sort of punishment between the time the bullet was found in his room and between the Spring Arts Festival, a span of 10 days.
After he had been dismissed, though, Enge checked his Warren Wilson e-mail and saw that the Administrative Assistant for Student Life had sent him a priority e-mail the day he was dismissed, at 1:58 p.m., telling him to come to the Dean of Student Life’s office at 3 p.m.
Enge, however, was occupied with the Festival all day, which he had been helping set up since 9 a.m. that morning, and later working the Festival after it began at one.
Because he had no access to his e-mail, Enge was not aware that he was requested to see Myers at the designated time, and thus public safety was ordered to find Enge and retrieve him from the Festival.
In order to retrieve his cell phone, public safety brought Enge back to the Spring Arts Festival, where he created a scene after his meeting with Myers.
“By this time I’m in tears,” Enge said. “I’m sitting on the curb, crying, feeling like a piece of shit.”
Some attending the festival took notice of the incident, including Leah Leitson, Enge’s ceramics teacher and one of his ceramics crew work supervisors.
Leitson approached the public safety officials and inquired about the situation, when she was told that Enge was to be removed from campus and could not return.
The public safety officials then escorted Enge to his room in Vining B, where he was to pack his things. According to Enge, Myers told him “we’ll give you a chance to pack your bags, and we’re going to take you to the bus station.”
Public safety was ordered to take him to the Greyhound Bus station, where a ticket was to be purchased to his hometown of Berea, Ky.
Enge refused to get on the bus, and was told by public safety that if he came back to campus, the sheriff would be called.
Enge spent the weekend off campus with friends in Asheville, and packed up his things Monday when his mother came down from Berea to help him leave, and to meet with Myers one final time.
The dismissal of Enge that afternoon created a commotion, and became a catalyst for some events that unrolled that evening and beyond.
“It was the last straw for most people,” Enge said, after a year of changes in Student Life, in administration, and in faculty.