Many people at this university take their education for granted. This is hard to do, however, once your right to an education as a student has been taken away from you. This is what has happened to a man here named George Detroit Dunwood.
George was in the BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) program on this campus. Throughout the past two years, he had many problems with his major, specifically with the people within the program. At times, he felt alienated, disrespected and even threatened. Whenever he went to the faculty about these problems he was simply ignored. The situation got even worse when there was a heated verbal exchange between George and another student that had to be broken up. Then on March 10, eight students within his BFA program wrote letters to the administration saying they considered him a threat.
Upon receiving these letters the university took swift action and dismissed George from his major on March 16. This is after the faculty ignored all of the complaints that George had made against the same students for the past year and a half. However, according to UCSB’s bylaws, he is supposed to receive a fair hearing after the school has done an independent investigation on the allegations made by the eight other students.
This was never done. George had to attend an official meeting at which they presented him with a signed document saying he was dismissed. The document was dated the day before the meeting, meaning that they had already come to a decision without first speaking to George.
In his letter of dismissal there are many reasons listed for why he was dismissed. The first is that he did not retake a class that was necessary in order to move on in the major. He was supposed to take two classes during the summer to compensate for it; however, he received a special offer to perform in London that conflicted with these summer classes. When he spoke with an adviser, he was informed that he would be allowed to take the class again at a later date.
The second reason they gave was that his speech work was poor, and that he had not improved in his language skills. However, he was recently assigned to play a character in a play called “Pentecost” in which he speaks Russian fluently. It is also hard to make improvements when you are on the Deans Honor’s list in Fall Quarter 2004.
The last reason they give for his dismissal is that he cannot control his emotions. Actions taken by the faculty contradict this statement. George had recently applied for a special summer program for gifted performers. In order to apply he had to receive a letter of recommendation from a faculty member. One of the issues addressed in the letter was “physical stamina and mental/emotional stability.” Not only was George accepted, but he received a $750 scholarship as well. Obviously, at this time the faculty saw no reason why he would be a threat.
What is so disturbing about this situation is that if it could happen to him, then it could happen to anyone on this campus. How would you feel if a group of students from your major had the power to get you thrown out of your major with no evidence?
George is currently fighting the administration’s decision in order to get back into his major, because being able to perform gives him something to fight passionately for.
During his time in this program he had to quit his job as an RA at FT in order to make time for his performing, which led to his living out of his car for a couple of weeks. This man has sacrificed everything in order to succeed, only to be betrayed. Groups such as SCORE, Black Student Union and newly elected A.S. President Chaz Whatley are willing to fight on his behalf. All these people want to make sure that George Dunwood is given his rights so that he can regain what was taken from him.
Timothy Finney is a sophomore business economics major.