The ban (and the firing) had no due process, no right to face my accusers, no court of appeals, and it's for life.
And it is not uncommon at college campuses across the nation.
After some $500 in legal fees, I am now allowed on campus but may not go within 500 feet -- a mere tenth of a mile -- of the Center for Opinion Research building. After which my attorney retired. Not to imply any connection. But who could blame her if there was?
With an eye toward writing about banning, an academia version of shunning, I contacted Ron Harper, Jr., for his point of view. Readers may recall Ron was banned from campus in 2008 after he and his business partner placed a Lancaster Post newspaper box on a public right-of-way along Marietta Avenue, near the college president's home, and F&M security intervened and took him into custody.
Ron said the ban is still in effect. He cited case law that he said requires the college to open its campus, even if it's a private institution. He offered to email the document. He spoke at length about how the ban has affected his life. And about the circumstances that led to the encounter with campus security -- his attempts to contact then-president John Fry about a story Ron was investigating involving a couple of college students.
I had met Ron about six years ago when I was web editor of NewsLanc.com. Lancaster Post began publishing not long after I left NewsLanc. When I saw Ron's video of F&M security converging near the Marietta Avenue newspaper box, I had questions. When the case law Ron cited didn't appear in my inbox, I emailed a couple questions to him:
Ron, what would you say to the allegation that the 2008 incident with
F&M security at Marietta Avenue & Hamilton Road was staged or
pre-arranged in any way? The reason I ask is because in the video you
announce the arrival of F&M security before the viewer even hears the
siren or sees their vehicle.
Also, the few words spoken in the video have a certain rehearsed feel
to them, almost as if they were a script written or co-written by
hmm... just taking a guess here... Robert Field?
How would you respond to that?
When Ron didn't reply, I called him.
When he answered the phone I said “Hello Ron, this is Lynn Miller, how are you?”
He said in a puzzled voice, “Who is this?”
I repeated my name, wondering if I had the right number, and asked if I had reached Ron Harper.
Silence. Had we been cut off?
Just to make sure, I called back. A man’s voice answered in a monotone: “Do not contact me again.” Puzzled, I asked if I had reached Ron Harper. Silence. He had hung up.
Is that sirens I hear?