Muskegon Community College appear to have put a lockdown on all campus events with any relation to their former student, Evan Emory, who today started his 60-day jail sentence for posting a video on YouTube. My efforts along with local residents to schedule an educational seminar for the students at the college were blocked by school administrators, and a statement from the school’s administration on the ban is what some local residents are calling an outright lie.

Evan Emory Gets Jail in YouTube Case

But first, for an update on the criminal case of Evan Emory:

Check out today’s extended coverage of Evan Emory sentencing (including additional video of Emory being convicted and led to jail) at the Muskegon Chronicle newspaper’s own website, I recommend reading this article by Heather Lynn Peters, “Evan Emory sentenced to jail; parents of victimized students remain angry.”

YouTube Education Now Banned in Muskegon County?

Moments after being sentenced to 60 days in the county jail in, Evan Emory sits in the visitors booth for an interview. Emory was sentenced by Muskegon County 14th Circuit Judge William C. Marietti on Tuesday, April 12, 2011. ©Kendra Stanley-Mills | Muskegon Chronicle

Two weeks ago, after all my coverage of the Evan Emory YouTube Criminal case, I thought it would be a good idea to offer an educational seminar for the students of the campus Evan attended and performed at right up to the time of his arrest – that would be Muskegon Community College (MCC). Evan had received huge support from his fellow students at MCC, who still passionately argue that he has been profoundly misunderstood and railroaded by some parents and a prosecutor who wanted to make an example out of him, including a judge who says in his own sentencing that his own mindset is like the parents who don’t distinguish between what happens on YouTube and in the real world. (You can watch a video interview of these students at The Muskegon Chronicle newspaper’s website, “Evan Emory case seems to highlight generation divide.”)

After first checking with Emory and some of his colleagues weeks ago, including his own licensed mediator between himself and the parents, they all expressed to me strong support for holding such a seminar, saying it is sorely needed. So two weeks ago I then contacted the college’s student life office (which is in charge of approving events at their campus) and spoke with the administrative assistant about my offer. I was asked if there would be any charge for my appearance, and I assured her it would be free and done entirely as a community service. (I did offer that covering my 4-hour drive and one night hotel stay would be very helpful, if they could afford to provide that, but that no compensation to myself would be any requirement if that posed any problems.) She sounded to me to be very receptive to the offer and then said she would pass it on to the Student Life assistant director, Ms. Sandy Ring.

A week goes by and I receive no response from anyone at the school. So I then called the school’s student life office and asked if they had reached a decision. I was then informed that Ms. Ring had declined my offer. I was given her email address to make a further inquiry for the reason of her decision. The following is a screenshot of all my email correspondence with Ms. Ring. You will be able to see for yourself the following evidence:

  • Ms. Ring first refuses allowing our event at the MCC campus due to “budget constraints.”
  • Even when I repeat my original offer that whatever fees there are I will offer to have covered by myself, Ms. Ring still denies my request and offers no further explanation for doing so.
  • Ms. Ring stops all further correspondence; despite 2 more attempts to reach her by email. Ms. Ring does not return any phone calls from myself, nor does the school’s public relations office (which I was informed by Ms. Ring’s administrative assistant would be the only other option I have).

Was this refusal because I was an outsider? Would a local resident fare better? Well it turns out that Evan’s own uncle, Pete Berns, did some checking with the school and informed me that the administration was putting a shut-down on anything related to the Evan Emory case, out of fear of local government reprisal.

“There’s no excuse for an organization of higher learning to walk away from an opportunity like this, which would actually provide information and help to their own students.” said Berns.

My Thoughts – “Grant’s Rant”

All throughout the Evan Emory case since February of this year, some residents and school administrators in Muskegon, Michigan were calling on the need for Evan Emory’s criminal case to serve as a “teachable moment.” I’m not sure how exactly how this town plans to accomplish that if the only thing they want to teach is that ignorance and prejudice should prevail. Information is a scary thing only to the people who can’t rationalize their own actions.

Fortunately, the Internet is without borders. We’ve already seen many times over recently of how YouTube and social media can successfully educate and mobilize people when any kind of government attempts to block access to information in their own borders. I guess the school administration of Muskegon’s only “higher learning” institution still seems to be rather clueless about that. (For that remedy, I would suggest that they should go online more often, and maybe they could learn what’s been going on while they’ve been sleeping.)

Muskegon’s judge who did Emory’s sentencing, the local prosecutor, the Ravenna school superintendent, and some parents may find it convenient in the short-term to direct all of their outrage at a 21-year old individual who admittedly made a stupid mistake. However I would content that it’s their actions that seem to already have dwarfed whatever stupidity they continue to accuse the younger and more astute YouTube generation in their own community of committing. Right now they appear to find the responsibility to openly educate not at all important compared their desire to gain political points by appealing to hate.