The following is an opinion article written by Matthew Jacox and Thomas Trueax. Jacox is a senior English major from Lebanon, Ohio. Trueax is a senior communications major from Rochester Hills.
There are expectations held by the students, staff and general community of a liberal arts college, and above all, it is expected that a student’s value to their community should be held at a higher level of importance than the institution’s fear of being liable for the students they swear to protect.
We believe the expectation of a healthy and progressive environment held by the students has been failed by Albion College. On Nov. 8, while in a mental hospital, Diana Tomko, Moscow junior, says she received communication from the college, giving her the choice of either being academically suspended or taking a voluntary leave of absence.
According to Tomko, she was taken straight to her dorm by Campus Safety. Tomko was forced to pack up within a three hour period. During this time, Tomko says she was closely supervised by the Area Coordinator, even just to go to the laundry room, and was denied the request to say goodbye to their partner, who had to wave to them through a window.
From their dorm room, Tomko says she was taken to the Campus Safety Office to be taken to a temporary residence off campus.
When attempting to gather information about how to recuperate and regain stability after being kicked off campus, Tomko says she directly communicated with the Dean of Students, Leroy Wright, who had power over the direction of Tomko’s current life since she is a dual citizen student and the school was being used as a source of income and housing for her.
The Dean of Students has an extensive career in college environments, and has said in his closing statement in the Albion College website’s article announcing his induction into the position, “I want to find a place I can call home and which will allow me to walk to work and be actively engaged in the community.” which is something students can say is worth wanting in an institution. Yet, this basic need of consistency and home that Albion College portrays, was not met in our view.
Instead, the Dean of Students denied every request that Tomko made to attend one class, on-campus housing, the ability to work and even shut off her student ID card in order to prevent the use of college facilities.
We believe the bureaucratic boundary placed by the Dean of Students enforced by supposed college policies is incongruent with Albion’s heart and soul.
Tomko was finally informed on Dec. 8 that they would have to wait for a decision to be made during a review from Jan. 3 through the 16. Until such time that the Dean of Students reviews the case, Tomko says she is left stranded without income, without classes nor any idea as to when they can get back to classes, no ability to register for future classes and no ability to live anywhere on campus.
Tomko has dual citizenship and does not permanently live in the United States. Being in the United States means this student has the opportunity to earn a higher wage than they could possibly earn in their native country. To get therapy in her native language, her only option was to pay out of pocket for a therapist. The amount refunded to her for compensation did not even come close to allowing her to effectively reorient herself, according to Tomko.
This ultimately resulted in Tomko saying she has no choice but to stop therapy altogether. The only alternative option Tomko says she was given was to be granted a prepaid plane ticket back to her home country, to send her away with little to no explanation or justification.
According to Tomko, she needed the campus for financial and physical stability, neither of which the college provided. Due to the actions taken by the college, she says her mental health circumstances have been subjected to further deterioration.
We believe it is unacceptable for the Dean of Students to force Tomko to leave Albion College––given almost no option but to leave the United States entirely, seemingly encouraging her to leave––while also neglecting to provide any information indicating the possibilities of continuing her education and employment upon which they depend.
Seeing students as an easily-shed liability is not any of the proposed values of Albion College, but the actions taken and the supposed legislation that justified them would indicate otherwise. We hope that the support shown at the demonstration will indicate this student’s value to their community, and effectively portray what a rash, unnecessary and cruel decision this was.
Correction: The original publication of this guest column misspelled Tomko’s surname. We apologize for any confusion.