Former housefellow Matt Morin will make his final appeal to University of Wisconsin Housing’s decision to terminate his position this morning.
Morin, who faces charges of violating university policies by loaning his room key to a visiting friend, will have an opportunity to present new evidence or arguments for consideration to an appeal agent.
During this process, the appeal agent will be able to ask questions, examine the procedures of Morin’s termination and re-evaluate the allegations and outcomes of the case. If termination is deemed an inappropriate outcome, the decision could be reversed, and other punitive measures would occur.
Many residents from Witte B, where Morin worked, vocalized their support for him and desire to see him retain his position.
“He’s an awesome housefellow — he’s developed really good relationships with all of us and really made an effort to be our friend,” said UW freshman Jennifer Eakins. “I don’t think they should take him away.”
Despite residents’ petitions and letters sent to housing officials in support of Morin, University Housing director Paul Evans said such gestures should not affect the decision of the appeal agent.
“It’s not that unusual that the students in the house would want to keep their housefellow,” Evans said. “In a case like this one, though, it doesn’t change the outcome because the infraction still occurred.”
Consistency in punishment of violators is an important consideration in the decision, Evans added.
“We try to be as consistent as we can from case to case,” he explained.
Many residents as well as several former housefellows said the punishment seemed excessive and other similar cases were treated less severely.
In the official housefellow training manual, however, “misuse of official key” falls under the heading “behavior warranting termination.”
Evans maintained the actions of University Housing fell within acceptable bounds, given the nature of the safety threat posed by Morin’s actions.
“As far as our collective memory serves, there hasn’t been a similar case,” Evans said.
On the other side, Morin said he was aware of an instance in which a Witte resident was written up twice for loaning his key out and did not face expulsion from housing.
“Housing is guilty of being unprofessional and inconsistent in their policies,” Morin said.
Evans defended University Housing’s stance and stated that “when you get into issues of safety and security, you move very quickly up the ladder of severity.”
Citing several instances of sexual assault that occurred in the dorms this semester, Evans said loaning out a key to a nonresident could have resulted in dangerous situations for students.
Former Kronshage housefellow and current UW medical student Matthew Aschbrenner said many such cases go unreported; however, he added, the issue receives specific attention in housefellow training.
“At the beginning of the year in training, they stress to you specifically the importance of not loaning out your keys,” Aschbrenner said.
Morin and several other students said they suspected the termination stemmed from Morin’s expression of viewpoints perceived as homophobic and contrary to those of housing officials. Evans maintained these factors played no role in the decision.
“Some of the inferences that there were reasons for the dismissal other than a policy violation were false,” Evans said. “There was no relation between those incidents and the dismissal.”