Despite appeals, freshman expelled from Simpson

by Andrea Kemp

Some Simpson students try to graduate a year early – but others don’t get a choice about leaving early.

One student, freshman Todd Rooney, learned first-hand how Simpson’s judicial system works when he was kicked out of school after a failed plea to the appeals board.

Rooney’s friends said his punishment doesn’t seem fair.

“I just didn’t think it was right,” sophomore Tucker Priebe, a friend of Rooney’s, said. “I think they could have suspended him for a shorter term. I think he’s kind of disappointed he’s not here.”

Rooney’s suspension happened after his involvement in a recent assault outside of Barker Hall. His friends said that was unfair.

“In my opinion I think it was a little extreme,” freshman Cory Lemke said. “Yeah, he had gotten in trouble with his room occasionally [but] he didn’t start the fight. He was the one on the ground. I guess I don’t see why they put that blame on him.”

Simpson faculty members who determine judicial actions, such as suspension from school, declined to comment on Rooney’s case. They said they’re protecting the confidentiality of past and present students.

The rules about suspension are somewhat flexible. According to Stephanie Krauth, associate director of students, Simpson tracks its students’ judicial offenses over a 12-month span, but there is no set number of violations that result in suspension.

“I can’t even say that there is an exact number,” Krauth said. “It depends on the combination, the timeline. You’re looking at the severity of the incident or incidents, and then putting it all together in one package.”

Jim Thorius, vice president and dean for student development, said students receive a variety of penalties, ranging from community service to monetary fines, depending on the severity of the offense.

“The severity of that action is going to be connected to the specific information or particulars of the case involved,” Thorius said. “So the student who might have been found in violation for the first time of the campus alcohol policy might find some particular action. But the student who might be involved in something more serious, whether or not it’s a drug-related violation or assault issue might be subject to another kind of sanction.”

Students typically go through three steps before they receive a specific disciplinary action. These are an administrative meeting, a meeting before the student judicial board and a meeting with the appeals committee.

Simpson administrators declined to comment on the process Rooney went through, but according to Rooney, he first met with the judicial board co-chairs, Krauth and Director of Security Chris Frerichs. He was disappointed by the response he received after this administrative meeting.

“When I went in to see them I didn’t know anything was going to happen,” Rooney said. “I didn’t think I was going to be in trouble. I told them everything, I cooperated, and I still got in trouble.”

The freshman received a letter informing him of his suspension after that meeting, and in response, two of his friends wrote appeal letters to Krauth and Frerichs.

Rooney did not meet with the student judicial board, but he received a second letter informing him that he was still being suspended. Then he met with the appeals committee.

The appeals committee this year consists of three members: Thorius, Student Body President Dan Carver and Jack Gittinger, associate professor of education.

This committee has the power to lessen a student’s punishment, keep the penalty the same based on a recommendation by the judicial board or administration or in rare cases, add additional penalties to a student’s sentence.

According to Krauth campus dismissal happens one of two ways.

A “finite suspension” allows the student to return to campus after a given amount of time, with a varied set of criteria that must be followed, whereas an “infinite/indefinite suspension is a permanent suspension from campus. Krauth said while infinite suspensions are rare, students don’t usually return to campus after a finite suspension.

“I honestly have not had a student return from a finite suspension yet,” Krauth said. “And that was their choice. They always had the opportunity, but they either decided this wasn’t the place for them or they decided they didn’t want to meet the criteria in order to come back. And we really don’t place outlandish criteria on them in order for them to come back, or turn around and succeed at Simpson.”

While Rooney received a finite suspension which would allow him to return to campus later on, the freshman decided not to return to Simpson.