Britney Bethel was shocked when she flipped open a newspaper last week to read that her photo would be posted on the University of Northern Colorado Web site along with other students who have been banned from the UNC campus.
“I was really upset because it felt like a label,” the former UNC student said. “I was afraid people would jump to the conclusion that I was a criminal. I don’t know about the rest of the people on the list, but for me, that’s not the case.”
Some students banned from the UNC campus – deemed persona non grata by the administration – are speaking out against having their photos linked to a Web site about how the school is responding to the Virginia Tech shootings.
“If there is anything we might consider positive to come out of (the) shootings at Virginia Tech, it is the lessons that may keep other campuses safe,” wrote UNC President Kay Norton in a campus-wide e-mail. “With that in mind, we are launching a new page on the UNC Police Web site that has the names and photographs of people we have banned from our campus this academic year.”
Of the 24 individuals posted on the site, 14 have their photos shown. Bethel’s photo was posted above that of a former UNC punter charged with attempted first-degree murder in the stabbing of a teammate.
But Bethel says she was not banned from her campus for being a danger to others. Rather, she was banned for being a danger to herself after she went into cardiac arrest in the campus recreation center.
“I assure you we do not issue persona non grata orders because of someone’s medical condition,” Norton wrote in another campus-wide e-mail last week.
Some CSU students interviewed Sunday had concerns about the site.
“I can understand what they’re trying to do, but I can also see why the students are getting upset,” said Melissa Lovegren, a junior accounting major. She added: “They’re making the students scared of these people when they don’t necessarily need to be.”
Shawn Murry, a sophomore engineering major, said he has no problem with the lists, but that it would be more productive if only police were able to view it, not the public.
“Linking the list to the page about Virginia Tech gives the wrong idea,” he said.
Despite the controversy surrounding the posting, UNC officials remain unmoved.
“The plans right now are to update the list as needed,” said Nate Haas, UNC spokesman. “The intent is to give the campus community another tool to keep them safe.”
Phillip Scott, a junior psychology major at UNC, said he agrees with his school’s decision to post the list.
“That way we know who to look out for on campus,” he said.
Officials at CSU, however, handle banning differently.
“We do not have a Web site that lists banned individuals from campus,” said Jackie Swaro, CSU Police Department spokeswoman. “Chief Yarbrough has a list, but in the four years he has been here, he has banned only four people – none of them students.”
Staff writer James Holt can be reached at email@example.com.