Resolution to Hiett drug case

Alicia Bones

Last year, Lawrence students and parents received a letter over winter break detailing the discovery of a potential security hazard in a Hiett quad. The e-mail mentioned of the finding of “potentially harmful chemicals in a student room in Hiett Hall” and noted that the students involved were possibly facing “criminal, drug-related charges.”
The members of the Hiett quad, Madison Tift, Michael Weck, Raad Fadaak and Joseph Herman, were put on academic leave and were not allowed to return to school for winter term. With the filing of the police report, the case ended nearly two months ago. The Appleton Police Department made no convictions. Charges were brought against two of the four quad mates and both sets of charges are pending dismissal.
Unable to return to campus, the students stayed busy. Tift spent two trimesters at Evergreen State College in Seattle, Wash. He has since returned to Lawrence for spring term and plans on graduating after fall term of next year. Fadaak transferred to Reed College in Portland, Ore. – his hometown – and plans to graduate there in May. Weck transferred to UW-Eau Claire, where he is finishing his junior year. Herman is working in real estate in Flagstaff, Arizona, and is taking steps to become a fire fighter.
Due to the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell was unable to comment on the specifics of the case or the administration’s involvement with it.
However, she did speak about the general policy that outlined the administration’s handling of the situation, saying, “Above all else, we are going to place a high-level importance on student safety and student well being. There is always going to be a balancing act between community needs and individual student needs. If there is an alleged crime and a police investigation is ongoing, we are going to wait for the outcome of the police investigation to know if we have a safe and appropriate situation on campus.”
In separate interviews, both Fadaak and Tift expressed understanding of how the administration handled the situation, though they did not agree with everything that happened. Tift said, “Looking back now, I understand why the administration had to respond that way, but still I wish they would back their students more in situations like this.”
Fadaak said that the administration’s “aggression and overblown response could have easily been avoided by careful, deliberate disciplinary steps following the discovery. These steps, had they been followed, would have resulted in a much better resolution for both the university as well as us – the students involved.”
Fadaak continued, “I think plenty of students and professors knew that I was no threat, and in fact a benefit, to the [Lawrence] community, and I am genuinely sad that I was not able to finish up my undergraduate degree there. However, I am glad that I am now attending a school which I believe fully respects and fosters its community of open-minded individuals.”
For his part, Tift is glad to be back at Lawrence, saying that this ordeal has not hurt him academically or professionally but only was a temporary sidetrack to his Lawrence career. Now that it is over, he looks back at the ordeal in a more light-hearted manner, saying of the experience, “It was an interesting adventure into the world of being accused of being a criminal.