EDITORIAL: Airhart’s spotlight is over

Yesterday, the Daily Kent Stater reported the Judicial Affairs hearing for David Airhart would take place at 2 p.m. that day. It turns out, however, that Judicial Affairs has instead decided to drop the charges.

On Oct. 19, Airhart climbed a military recruiting climbing wall and unraveled a peace banner. He continued by removing his harness and climbing down the back of the wall, putting himself and the others on the wall in danger. Airhart was already fined $105 for disorderly conduct by Kent State police and was facing possible expulsion by the university.

But now, the university and Airhart’s lawyer have reached a compromise. David Airhart has released the letter sent to him by Judicial Affairs director R.P. Flynn in regards to the case.

Judicial Affairs has reviewed the case and decided that “mediation is more appropriate.” Flynn stated in the letter that Judicial Affairs will agree to expunge the charges once university ombudsman Greg Jarvie has an appointment with Airhart.

On behalf of Kent State, Ron Kirksey, executive director for University Communications, set the record straight regarding the matter.

“We never felt that this was a major incident,” Kirksey said. “(Dropping the charges) simply pulled it out of the judicial process.”

Kirksey explained that Judicial Affairs, unlike other court systems, does not have specific punishments in regards to university policies. Any case heard by Judicial Affairs faces punishment ranging from “probation to possible expulsion.” According to Kirksey, discipline at Judicial Affairs is determined on a case-by-case basis .

Oops. Looks like the Kent State Anti-War Committee left that part out. Instead, the infamous “Hands Off Dave” flyers circulating around campus simply mentioned that Airhart could be expelled.

It doesn’t make sense for Kent State to expel a student over a banner anyway. Kirksey shared similar sentiments on behalf of the university.

“We feel we’ve always tried to protect the rights of free speech,” Kirksey said. “We want to make Airhart comfortable and moving towards graduation.”

Not even former football star Josh Cribbs, who faced a more serious charge regarding drug possession last year, was expelled. Expelling Airhart would only hurt Kent State’s reputation, but even worse, it would give KSAWC more fuel for its fire.

It looks like KSAWC has gotten a victory regardless. This editorial board stands by the fact that readers need to understand Airhart was in trouble for disorderly conduct and not for his banner. But considering the fact that Judicial Affairs has decided to dismiss the Airhart case, it’s time for Airhart to step away from his spotlight.

To be blunt, we are calling on everyone to get their hands off the “Hands off Dave” campaign.

Airhart has been on more places on the Internet than those “sock the monkey and win $20” pop-up ads. He’s been mentioned in Rolling Stone, on MSNBC.com and hundreds, if not thousands, of political blogs. It’s time this Airhart incident comes to an end.

In the future, we encourage anyone, including Airhart and the Anti-War Committee, to exercise their rights to free speech, but do so with respect to the safety of others.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.