Lawrence activist banned from university building hired

October 25, 2017

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence activist who was banned from one building at the University of Kansas for making students and staff feel unsafe has been hired to teach students on another part of campus.

Caleb Stephens was banned from the university’s School of Social Welfare building after a confrontation in 2015 with the then-Dean Paul Smokowski. University officials said the confrontation disrupted the learning environment and caused students and staff to fear for their safety, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .

Stephens later explained he had confronted Smokowski after weeks of discussion between the dean and the university’s Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk student activists over concerns about racial equity issues at the school. He said he was dissatisfied with the dean’s response to requests that Smokowski write a letter in solidarity with the activists.

“I used (the F-word) a lot throughout the four-minute conversation, but did not attack him, advance toward him, threaten him in any way, and was at least three to four feet away from him the entire time,” Stephens said, adding that he felt the dean didn’t care about people of color.

The university confirmed Monday that Stephens has been hired as a graduate teaching assistant in the department of theater, where he’s also a doctoral student.

A university official said Stephens’ building ban is still effective until end of 2018.

“Please note that if you engage in a similar disruptive and threatening conduct in other university buildings, you may be subject to arrest for disorderly conduct, and this ban may be expanded to include the entire campus,” a letter to Stephens said.

Stephens is a licensed social worker and organizer for Lawrence’s Black Lives Matter chapter.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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