What not to do: advice from the parkhursted
By Amy Davis
Published on Friday, January 19, 2007
From the whispered, uncertain rumors of daily conversation to the flippant jokes made loudly in bravado-filled frat basements, it is clear that being Parkhursted is not something Dartmouth students take lightly. Even those who know very little about suspension view it as frightening and very real: "Being Parkhursted is the worst possible thing that can happen to you at Dartmouth. It puts your life on hold," Nicole LaBombard '09 said. And though Parkhursting is indisputably an uncomfortable subject, it seems that everyone can think of at least one acqaintance who has gone through the process.
Still, those who are Parkhursted, whether for Vespa destruction or poor academic standing, do manage to soldier on and can now turn an otherwise negative experience into valuable advice and warning for the rest of the student body.
Mike Guippone '07 is one such Parkhursted student. Guippone is off for one term because he was suspended, he said, "'for willful destruction of property' -- I destroyed someone's Vespa scooter." Guippone seems annoyed and frustrated at his suspension. "Seriously, the administration is ridiculous," he said. "This kind of crap shouldn't go on at a normal college. They are handing out suspensions like it's a slap on the wrist."
Yet Guippone is using his time as productively as possible. Treating his suspension as "an involuntary off-term" Guippone got an internship that he describes as "b-side" since he had little time to plan. He sums up being Parkhursted as "pretty terrible," though he will be able to graduate on time, and ultimately views it more as "an inconvenience" than the end of the world.
One junior, who wishes to remain anonymous, felt the one-term suspension he received for a DUI during his sophomore summer actually helped him to reevaluate his situation. "I'd spent two years moving progressively further down the road of substance abuse. I was blacking out at least weekly, hurting myself when drunk. [During the term off] I got a handle on myself and on the issues that were causing me to drink so much in the first place," he said. The student used his time off at home to think about his life, and heal himself. "I've got a plan for life now and am not the aimless drifter I kind of was for a while," he said. "Everyone's different, but I'm really glad I went home. It helped me rebuild some of the trust that I'd broken with the family."
Richard Denton, a former Dartmouth junior, was suspended and then separated from the College after failing to maintain his academic standing at Dartmouth. Denton regrets not transferring earlier, when he realized that he was not able to keep up with the academic rigors of the school.
"I have no problem with admitting that the pace of Dartmouth was too much for me, and that another, larger university would better suit me," Denton said. Denton sees his situation as a learning experience. "My initial reaction was that of embarrassment and sadness. Now I view the experience as the wake-up call I needed," he said. Denton is spending the winter taking courses at a local college before attempting to transfer to another university. Still, he said that his experience is not something he "would wish upon anyone."
Michael Volodarsky '08, was Parkhursted after shooting a BB gun off the roof of Zeta Psi fraternity in the now-infamous BB gun sniper incident of February 2005. Though Volodarsky told The Dartmouth shortly after the incident that "no one was intentionally aiming at a person," Michelle Nuderman '05 was hit in the leg and heard several other shots land near her. Though Volodarsky could not be reached for comment, at the time of the misdemeanor charge, he expressed regret, saying, "I am sorry for the role that I played in the incident. It was not intentional."
Intentions, unfortunately, can hardly count for much. Instead, Denton feels the best way for students to stay out of trouble is to "follow the rules the administration [sets], no matter how ridiculous or senseless they may seem." And while Guippone said that no one should listen to his advice, he also said he wished he hadn't "broken that kid's scooter." Maybe rules aren't made to be broken after all.