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Essays from Pumpkin-Stealing Students Show Little Remorse, Lack of Grammar

February 20, 1986

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) _ Six college students were sentenced to writing sentences for stealing two tons of pumpkins, but authorities say the experiment showed mixed results, period.

″The spelling was at a level I would expect of a sixth- or seventh- grader,″ Benton County District Attorney Peter Sandrock said Wednesday after seeing four of five essays that District Judge Henry Dickerson had received from the Oregon State University students.

Dickerson said the essays, which he had ordered as part of a probationary sentence for six members of the Lamda Chi Alpha fraternity who pleaded guilty to second-degree theft, contained ″poor grammar and poor spelling″ and had ″a disorderly appearance.″

The judge and Sandrock also said they were surprised that two of the men expressed little or no remorse for their actions and were critical of the way they had been treated.

″The only remorse seems to be that they got caught,″ Sandrock said.

The men could have been sentenced to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500 for the misdemeanor theft of the pumpkins from a Corvallis farmer.

One of the students wrote ″the hole ordeal was planned the day before Halloween.″ Another said his experience at the county jail as ″so scarey.″

The students also had to perform community service for the elderly and needy.

″I split wood for a lot of community service and could not imagine that there were that many people who need wood and can’t chop it,″ one writer said.

Another said he learned that ″small town politics can turn a small happening into the biggest crime in history.″

Although the essays were not exactly what the judge had hoped for, Dickerson said two of the students seemed to be sorry for their misdeeds.

One wrote that the farmer and his wife ″reminded me a lot of my own grandparents. They understood that we were young and that it was just a prank ... I felt about 2 inches tall.″

Dickerson said he would consider using the essay sentence again, despite the mixed results.

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