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Student suspended in response to weapons allegations
President launches administrative investigation

May 3, 2007
by Tom Bosco

An Ohio University student has been suspended and banned from campus after allegations surfaced that he threatened other students and university staff, President Roderick J. McDavis said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The student, an aviation major, is alleged to have brought a handgun and knife onto airport property and into classrooms; committed assault; and engaged in unsafe flying. He is being questioned by Ohio University Police Department investigators and has not been charged at this time, McDavis said. The student voluntarily turned over two firearms to officers for safekeeping when they contacted him at his apartment off campus.

Because of federal privacy laws, the university does not release the name of the students involved in a disciplinary process.

"I immediately acted to suspend this student and order that he be banned from all university property," McDavis said. "We must not -- and we will not -- tolerate harassment, intimidation and violence at Ohio University."

Information about the alleged assault was not immediately known. University officials characterized the unsafe flying as "erratic," but had no other details.

McDavis said complaints had previously been lodged against this student, but only recently came to his attention as a result of a separate University Judiciaries matter. Problems reportedly have extended over two years.

"In reviewing this case, some of the Students Affairs staff looked a little deeper and other information came to the forefront," McDavis said. "A number of people, including students, stated they were afraid of this student," he said. Faculty and staff members have made similar statements, according Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith. McDavis said that led him to launch an administrative investigation to review how the matter had been handled in the past.

"We're certainly not happy about this situation not being reported, and we are moving quickly to get answers to all the questions. ...As we have answers, we will bring those forward."

McDavis reiterated that the safety of students, employees and visitors is of the utmost concern to his administration. He also asked that the university community and the public withhold judgment until all the facts are known.

In the wake of the April 16 Virginia Tech shootings, Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut established a statewide task force to review campus safety plans. Fingerhut spoke with McDavis today about this incident.

"This is precisely the kind of situation that needs to be reviewed by the task force that was recently formed," Fingerhut said, adding, "I offered any immediate help, but President McDavis assured me that the matter is under control."

Ohio University served as a videoconference site earlier this week for the task force's first meeting. 

Anyone with relevant information is encouraged to contact the Ohio University Police Department at 740-593-1911. If anyone has been affected by this situation and would like support or assistance, they should contact Richard Carpinelli in the Office of Student Affairs at 740-593-2580.

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