Officials weigh in on student conduct enforcement

Anna Huntsman

Of the 411 students referred to the Office of Student Conduct last year, 22 were assigned as persona non grata.

That’s now the case for Joe Swaney, the applied communication and photojournalism student who threatened a professor in Franklin Hall last week.

Officials weigh in on student conduct enforcement from KentWired.com on Vimeo.

The hearing for the incident—which Swaney did not attend—was held Monday, and the Student Conduct’s sanction bans him from setting foot on campus until next fall.

“[Persona non grata] means they’ve done something; we’ve found them responsible for a violation,” said Todd Kamenash, the director of the Office of Student Conduct. “If they’re in violation of those, and it puts a risk to harm, health, safety of somebody on campus or property on campus, then we might say they’re not allowed in that place anymore.”

Kent State University Police said persona non grata situations don’t pose a huge threat to campus.

“Typically, persona non grata given to a certain student to stay out of a certain area or university property isn’t a high level of threat. It’s just telling them ‘for this time, you’re not allowed back on campus’,” said Officer Tricia Knoles.

If the student is sanctioned persona non grata, there is no way to monitor whether they set foot on campus unless someone recognizes them and reports them to police. 

“That’s the challenge that we have being a public campus,” said Kamenash. “If they walk around and don’t bother anybody, we’re not going to know about it.”

In the chance that they do come to campus and are caught, they risk being arrested for trespassing.

Knoles said people rarely try to run that risk.

“Typically, when we deem somebody persona non grata, we haven’t had much of an issue returning to campus property because they don’t want to get arrested,” Knoles said.

Persona non grata sanctions are dealt with on a case by case basis. The Office of Student Conduct said Swaney’s threats were not perceived as legitimate.

Anna Huntsman is a reporter for TV2, contact her at [email protected]