Student expelled from dorm over antigay comments
November 11 2003 12:00 AM ET
The mother of a Vermont Technical College freshman plans legal action after her son was expelled from his dorm for two weeks because of allegedly antigay comments he wrote in a note. Rob Provost, 18, was evicted October 29 after writing to two friends using comments the school determined to be antigay. He was not suspended from classes. College officials gave Provost a list of hotels in the area and two days' notice to leave campus. With no car and only $41 in his checking account, Provost couldn't get a hotel room. He slept in a friend's car one night, stayed up all night walking the campus, and tried to camp out in a 24-hour computer lab before sneaking back into his room early one morning when he got cold. After being caught in the dorm, he stayed with siblings in Williamstown, Mass., last week. He also returned home to Massachusetts twice without informing his parents of the situation. His parents were never told by the college that their son had been suspended from the dorm. "I just wanted to solve things myself," said Provost, who also had his college identification card taken away.
Provost's parents, Jerry Provost and Gloria Austrich, called the school's charges "absurd" and said their son could have frozen to death. "I don't care if he violated 20 rules," Jerry Provost said. "My issue is, the college's way of handling the situation is potentially lethal. Make him wash the whole damn building, but don't put him out in the cold," added Provost, a former Barre, Vt., resident who lives in Holbrook, Mass. Austrich, a school psychologist, said she plans to hire a lawyer. She said her son has a learning disability and that the expulsion has affected his ability to learn, a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Rob Provost said he has family members and friends who are gay and that he considers himself to be open-minded, adding that he was joking when he wrote swear words to dorm mates in retaliation for a water-squirting incident.
Provost was also ordered to perform 10 hours of community service and write letters of apology to his two dormitory mates. College president Allan Rodgers stood by the school's policy. "We typically do not resort to removal from dorms unless we have a concern for the safety of the student or the safety of students," Rodgers said.