by Mariah Parker, Echo online writer
On April 15, Interim Director of Career Services Dorothy Herbert encountered a group of twelve students outside Dodge House as she left her office for the evening.
“After 38 years of work in education, [Dorothy] felt fearful for the first time that day,” said Dean of Work Ian Robertson.
The students insist they did not mean to intimidate Herbert, despite having arrived after hours in face paint and without an appointment; they just wanted to meet with Deb Myers.
Herbert directed the students to Myer’s office, where a student gave a strident knock on the door. Myers, however, had already left for the evening.
Unsuccessful, the students milled about the parking lot behind Dodge while Herbert continued to her car.
“It’s a small lot; we were contained,” said one student who partook in the incident. “We weren’t trying to surround her intentionally. We didn’t mean to intimidate.”
Though she felt uncomfortable and unsure of what to expect, Herbert was neither physically nor verbally assaulted by the students.
“Whatever the students’ intentions were, the look and number of them didn’t bespeak a desire for dialogue,” said Lyn O’Hare of Academic Support Services. “I never thought I’d meet students in a confrontational way before, but all of a sudden it feels like it really could happen.”
Since the incident, O’Hare has requested to be locked in when working after hours to ensure her safety. Herbert, on the other hand, has no increased anxiety about the safety of her work environment.
“I received a very thoughtful email from an apologetic student who said he’d like to come by and talk,” Herbert said. The student, first-year Sam Kohler, has also scheduled appointments with Deb Myers and Ian Robertson to discuss the group’s intentions and offer verbal apologies.
“In retrospect, it’s completely understandable that what we did was seen as an act of aggression,” said Kohler. “If people felt threatened, that puts us in the wrong automatically, no matter what we had intended.”
Kohler also made it clear that the group that approached Herbert is not associated with the recent acts of vandalism and intimidation that have taken place on campus. “I don’t want to be put in the same group as people that are keying cars and spray painting,” Kohler said. “I’ll admit that we were in the wrong and I apologize for the way we made staff members feel, but none of us involved are bad people.”
Kohler and the other students involved in the incident are still waiting to find out whether or not they will face disciplinary action.