Punish offender, not bystanders

As a community college, OCCC is dedicated to serving members of — you guessed it — the community.

In addition to the full array of courses and amenities offered to students, OCCC also opens up certain facilities and classes to the public.

Whitney Knight

For example, community members with a valid driver’s license or other means of identification can use library computers and check out books via a guest pass.

Citizens also can use the college’s gym facilities, such as the weight room and swimming pool.

But when it comes to preferential treatment, what comes first: the community or the college?

The answer should be obvious. Students should come first in an academic environment.

However, this writer has recently learned firsthand this is not always the case.

For the past few months, I have actively participated in a water-based fitness class held in the Aquatic Center.

Those classes came to an abrupt end last month following a verbal altercation between my instructor and a swimmer.

The swimmer in question, an older gentleman — and I use that word lightly — screamed expletives at my teacher for no reason other than our music being too loud for his liking.

My instructor was embarrassed, and the entire class felt uncomfortable.

We immediately reported the incident to a Wellness Center employee, who informed us there had been complaints about this particular individual and his aggressive outbursts before.

We also learned that he is not a student, but rather a member of the community who simply uses OCCC’s pool to swim.

With an investigation of the incident pending, my $20 per month class has been canceled indefinitely. That’s understandable — acceptable, even.

What is not acceptable is that when I stopped by the pool last week, I saw the same man, completely carefree and swimming away.

How is it fair that a class that OCCC students pay for was canceled due to this man’s actions, but he is allowed to continue using the same facility that our class can no longer use?

In a classroom, a student would surely be thrown out if he or she used such coarse language against a professor.

In fact, OCCC’s Student Conduct Code no. 5076 states: “verbal abuse … [and] mistreatment of any person on OCCC-owned premises” is strictly prohibited and will bring about disciplinary action.

But so far, the only action OCCC has taken in this incident has been punishing the innocent.

—Whitney Knight

Online Editor

To contact Whitney Knight, email onlineeditor@occc.edu.

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