Questions surround SIU assault and suspensions
By: Carly O'Keefe
By: Carly O'Keefe
CARBONDALE, Il. - Southern Illinois University has banned nine freshmen from its Carbondale campus in connection with an assault and attempted robbery of a student last Friday.
Prosecutors have only charged one of the nine students, 18-year-old Derrick Reese of Chicago, and two other non-students were taken into custody Friday night. Police questioned the other eight but did not file charges against them.
The students were served interim suspension papers over the weekend that banned them from the university grounds. All nine students lived in university housing and were forced to leave SIU property. The students are currently staying at Carbondale's Rock Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
The nine students maintain they were just walking by when the assault took place, and are now being blamed. Most of the students have had their judicial hearings and are suspended for two to three years, regardless of whether they were arrested or not in connection with the assault.
"I really need to be here, I really need to get my education. I need to become something later in life," said Derrick Reese.
Since Friday, Derrick Reese says he's been wrongly arrested for aggravated battery, accused of being a danger to other students and suspended from school for three years.
"They said I would be a threat to the campus and campus life or something like that but the officers never (charged) me and said I had nothing to do with it, it's just that I was there," said Suspended SIU Freshman Arin Anthony.
Anthony was suspended for two years. He was questioned but not arrested the night of the incident.
According to the boys, when police brought the victim over to their group he pointed to Derrick and two others based on what they were wearing. Derrick was wearing a red shirt which prompts his mother to ask how many other people in Carbondale wore red or maroon shirts over SIU's Homecoming weekend.
"On my suspension, he marked that I was a part of physically abusing the individual, and strong armed robbery, and aiding and abetting and a couple of other charges from the university even though Carbondale police said I had nothing to do with those," said Anthony.
Now the boys and their parents wonder what the future holds.
"They've been suspended for a violent crime, which they did not commit, and here's the catch 22 and once my son is exonerated of these charges, and I have no doubt that's going to happen, he's still suspended from school," said Derrick's mother Joenile Reese.
Derrick was a 4.0 student. His parents say they wish police and the university would have looked at more evidence before kicking their son out of school.
"At that time they searched the boys, and they didn't recover a wallet a watch or his $90, they didn't discover any blood on these boys, there was no evidence of a scuffle," said Joenile Reese.
SIU officials say the student conduct code is absolute and in cases like this they stick to the book.
"We strive to maintain a safe environment for all of our students and in doing so, it's often a real balancing act, and we take the safety and security of our students very seriously and we act very decisively when it appears there's been a violation of that code," said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Larry Dietz.