After reading through all topics and replies regarding the Martese Johnson incident, I feel incredibly disheartened by the alumni feedback. As I read it, most people malign administrators for coming out against the ABC without waiting for a thorough investigation. I completely disagree with this consensus.
First, the facts. Martese Johnson attempted to enter Trinity Bar, was asked for ID, and was not permitted entry. There is no allegation that he used a fake ID. ABC agents approached Johnson, and he was arrested after suffering personal injury. He was charged with 2 misdemeanors: “profane swearing and/or public intoxication” and obstruction of justice without force. Interestingly, “profane swearing and/or public intoxication” is a single charge; Johnson passed a breathalyzer test and is never accused of being inebriated.
The key point of contention is, how did Johnson suffer his injuries? Johnson alleges that the ABC agents “slammed his head against the pavement”, while the agents claim that he somehow hurt himself during the arrest process.
With these facts alone, I think it’s reasonable for the administration, or anyone, to side with Johnson. He has no prior convictions, has high character (evidenced by his election to the Honor Committee), hasn’t been accused of anything worse than “profane swearing”, and ended up with a bloody face and stitches. ABC agents, on the other hand, have a history of using excessive force and acting irresponsibly. Worst case scenario for Johnson: he hurt himself while getting arrested for nonviolent belligerence. Worst case scenario for the ABC agents: they violently abused an innocent kid.
The Rolling Stone debacle has made our community overly sensitive to knee-jerk reactions (rightfully so), but it’s the administration’s job to protect our students. As our President, Sullivan has no obligation to the ABC, the state of Virginia, or society at large to entertain and/or promote all viewpoints equally. Because this is now a national news story, she doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for a thorough investigation before making comment. I think it’s far better for her to defend a member of our community than stay neutral. Personally, I think she should have come out even stronger against the ABC agents; her current comments too light-handed.
I think the past few months have highlighted big problems within the University’s top administrators, and I am extremely critical of Sullivan’s leadership. However in this case, I do not think that Sullivan and others have made an erroneous “rush to judgment”, nor do I believe that a “rush to judgment” is even improper when it’s in defense of our own student. That’s her job. I really hope I’m not the only one here who shares this view….