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 Letters between Mr. Jablon and Ms. Kronsberg

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
moderator Posted - 2006 December 04 : 16:25:02
November 3, 2006

Dear Ms. Kronsberg,

Donna Strow reported to me that she spoke with you about me several times. Initially, she told you that she believed that I had been banned from campus because the college held me responsible for negative statements about the college that appeared in According to Ms. Strow, you stated that you needed to research the issue; you returned to her after doing so and told her that I was banned from St. Johnís for something that I had done on campus, but you could not disclose the reason to her for privacy reasons. I then called you and specifically asked you why I had been banned from St. Johnís. You stated that it was because of something that I had done on the Annapolis campus but you declined to state what it was, claiming lack of knowledge. You invited me to file an appeal, but you said that there was no real chance of having it accepted. Ms. Strow then spoke to you again recently. According to Ms. Strow, you said that the reason you did not tell me in our previous conversation is that I did not specifically ask you why I had been banned from campus. You stated that the decision was made before your current term as assistant dean, and you had no firmly held opinion on the issue.

In order to help me fully understand the collegeís position on why I was banned from campus and in order to avoid misunderstandings in the future, I have posed a series of specific questions (per your suggestion) concerning my being banned from both campuses of St. Johnís. You indicated to Ms. Strow that you might not be the best person to deal with this matter and that it might be preferable to bring my questions up to the dean of the Annapolis campus, Michael Dink. Therefore, please feel free to forward this letter to Mr. Dink or to any other official of either campus of the college whom you feel would be in a better position to answer my questions. I thank you and the college in advance for taking the time to provide written answers to my questions. This will elucidate the collegeís position, allow me a chance to respond, and create a useful record for others who might inquire why I have been banned from St. Johnís. Please send your answers and any questions you may have for me to the address below and to

Stephen Jablon
4573 Indian Rock Terrace N.W.
Washington D.C. 20007

1. Why was I banned from the Annapolis and Santa Fe campuses of St. Johnís College?

2. Were the decisions to ban me from the two campuses of the college made separately or together?

3. Who specifically made the decision or decisions to ban me from the two campuses of St. Johnís College?

4. If the decision to ban me from the Santa Fe campus was not made by Raymond R. Saccoccia, the head of security at the Santa Fe campus, why was the letter notifying me that I would be arrested and prosecuted if I returned to campus addressed to me in his name?

5. If the decision was made by Judith Adam, why was she named as a recipient of the letter and not as its author?

6. The letter banning me from the Santa Fe campus of St. Johnís came in an envelope marked ďOffice of the President.Ē Does this indicate that Michael Peters was involved in the decision to ban me from the Santa Fe campus? If Michael Peters made the decision to ban me from the Santa Fe campus, why does the letter not bear his signature?

7. Who has the power to reverse the decision to ban me from the two campuses of St. Johnís College?

8. What do I need to do, if anything, to have this decision reversed?

9. Why did the letter banning me from the Santa Fe campus not contain the reason for dismissal?

10. Why was there no letter sent from the Annapolis campus informing me that I was not allowed on campus?

11. As I received no letter from the Annapolis campus, I do not know the date the ban went into effect. What date was I banned from the Annapolis campus? If possible, please provide proof of the date such as a copy of a letter to security telling them to escort me off campus if they see me.

12. If you maintain that I was banned from the college neither for Daniel de Viseís article in the Washington Post about the cocaine investigation nor for any involvement with but instead claim that I was barred from campus for alleged infractions of the collegeís rules, please describe the alleged infractions. What evidence exists that I committed such alleged infractions? Please direct me to the specific paragraph in the student handbook stating the rule that I allegedly violated.

13. Please state the date or dates such alleged infractions occurred.

14. If I was banned from the college for alleged infractions of college rules, why was I neither given a chance to prove my innocence nor allowed to explain my side of the story in order to mitigate punishment?

15. Did the alleged infractions occur immediately prior to the decision to ban me from campus? If not, what was the reason for the delay between the commission of the alleged infractions and the act of banning me from campus?

16. Who in the current or former administrations of both campuses knows about the alleged infractions? On what dates were administrators informed of these alleged infractions? Specifically, when were officials of the Santa Fe campus notified of any alleged infraction committed on the Annapolis campus? When were officials of the Annapolis campus notified of any alleged infraction committed on the Santa Fe campus? When were Judith Seeger, Michael Dink, Christopher Nelson, Judith Adam, David Levine, Victoria Mora, Michael Peters, and you informed of any alleged infraction?

17. Does the college ever punish anyone for publicly criticizing the administration? If so, why?

18. Did a member of the college administration post on under the name ďnobodyĒ or under any other name? Is ďnobodyĒís view that the college can ban any private individual from St. Johnís without providing an explanation representative of the collegeís position? Did a member of the college administration post on any other Web site about St. Johnís Forum or about me? If so, what exactly was said?

19. Judith Adam, the assistant dean of the Santa Fe campus, told me that the reason I was asked to leave campus on the night of Michael Petersí inauguration was that I was drunk. What evidence exists to support such a claim? Who specifically made such an accusation against me? Why was I allowed to drive off campus if I was supposedly drunk?

20. When I spoke to you on the telephone, did you know the reason for my being banned from either or both campuses? If so, why did you not tell me at the time?

21. When I attended the croquet cotillion on the Annapolis campus, two Annapolis security officers asked me to come to the security office; they said that Chris Aamot, then one of the Annapolis assistant deans, would be present. However, he was not in the security office when we arrived. The security officers told me that I was not welcome on campus, but they did not give a reason, claiming lack of knowledge. Did the Annapolis security officers know the reason for my being banned from campus? If so, why did they not tell me when they escorted me off campus? If not, why were the security officers not informed of the reason so that they might fully understand the situation and be better able to deal with any problems that might have arisen? If the security officers did not know the reason that they were ordered to remove me from campus, why were they not accompanied by Mr. Aamot or any other administration official who knew the reason for my expulsion from campus in order that the reason might be explained to me?

Yours Truly,

Stephen Jablon
5   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
moderator Posted - 2007 February 22 : 15:48:20
February 13, 2007

Dear Ms. Kronsberg,

In your letter dated January 8, 2007, you stated that you would reply both to my letter dated November 3, 2006, formally requesting the reason why I was banned from St. Johnís College and my letter dated December 15, 2006, accusing you of slander. You have not addressed the slander accusation in my December 15 letter although your admission that I was banned from the college for making statements of whose content you disapproved directly contradicts what you told Ms. Strow, that I was banned not for criticizing the administration on the internet or to reporters but for some unrelated action on campus. Consequently, you are legally bound to correct the false statements you made to Ms. Strow and any others to whom you made similar statements. Therefore, I request that you inform anyone to whom you gave false information that the administration did not initially give me a reason for being banned from the college. You must further state that you ultimately gave me a reason over eleven months after the ban went into effect. The official reason, according to your letter dated January 17, 2006, is that I was banned for making statements about members of the college community that you deemed inaccurate. You must state that you did not mention any particular inaccurate statement that I allegedly made and that I dispute your claim that I made any inaccurate statements. Please notify me if you agree to follow these terms or provide me with your reasons why you feel that you are not legally obligated to do so.

Your January 17 letter confirms what I have long suspected, that I was banned from campus for criticizing the actions of St. Johnís College administrators. I can understand why the administration would be strongly upset by such criticism. However, the claim in your letter that the administration banned me from campus not out of resentment that their own actions were criticized but out of concern for the reputations of individuals involved in student discipline and personnel actions is not credible. At the time of the incidents, many of these individuals reported receiving the same kind of treatment that I received from the college: punishment with little or no explanation, no response to their inquiries, and violation of their privacy, often involving the spread of false or misleading information about them. These individuals are unlikely to wish the same treatment bestowed on anyone else, and it is therefore inappropriate for the college to claim to act in their interests by punishing me.

You stated that I have made and disseminated inaccurate statements with little or no personal knowledge of the facts or authorization of the individuals involved. However, you provide no evidence to support this statement. You have not inquired as to the extent or nature of my research. In fact, the college passed up an opportunity to hear a detailed account of the evidence supporting the claims in my report when, after being referred to the board by the alumni association, I was not only denied the opportunity to speak before the visiting committee during the October 2005 board meeting in Santa Fe but also ordered to leave campus. The security officers who told me to leave campus did not provide a reason at the time. However, Judith Adam, the assistant dean in Santa Fe, and Randall Harris, then the head of security in Santa Fe, later claimed that I was ordered to leave campus because I was drunk. A witness to the incident can attest that I was neither drunk nor did I act in any manner that suggested that I could be drunk. Additionally, the fact that you offered no explanation as to why security officers would not only permit, but order, an intoxicated individual to drive off campus casts doubt on the validity of the administrationís claim that I had been drinking.

St. Johnís College is legally obligated to keep certain information confidential. I, on the other hand, am not obligated to keep anything confidential unless I have agreed to do so. On the contrary, I consider myself ethically bound to reveal incidences of administrative misconduct if it will help to prevent similar events from occurring in the future. I did not promise the people who spoke to me confidentiality, and many, in fact, wanted their stories told. As anyone who admits authorizing me to divulge information detrimental to the administration may face retribution, I shall not identify any such person in this letter. However, if you notify me of a specific statement that I have made or you suspect me of making that you claim to be false or misleading, I shall tell you the reason why I maintain that the statement is accurate. If you are concerned that such notification would violate your legal obligations under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, you may contact me in order to discuss ways in which you can raise your objections to my statements without violating the law.

I feel obliged to correct one factual error in your most recent letter. You stated that a security officer verbally informed me of the decision to ban me from campus shortly after Paul Mikesellís letter dated February 13, 2006, was returned to you as undeliverable. In fact, no effort was made to contact me before I attended the croquet cotillion on April 22, over two months later, even though my receipt of an invitation to the events on croquet weekend indicates that at least one department of the Annapolis campus of the college had my permanent address on file. Mr. Mikesellís letter was mailed to a house in Santa Fe in which I had not lived for over a year even though I had notified the college when I moved out of that residence in January 2005. Also, I had repeatedly informed both campuses of the college to send all correspondence to my address in Washington D.C. and to my e-mail address,

Your enclosed copy of the letter banning me from the Annapolis campus is virtually identical to the letter banning me from the Santa Fe campus. Neither gives a reason for banning me from campus, and both letters purport to be written by the head of security of the campus on which the ban takes effect. It seems unlikely that monitoring and judging communications falls within the purview of security officersí responsibilities. I must therefore conclude that an administrator or administrators made the decision to ban me from St. Johnís. In your January 17 letter, you are very careful not to identify any particular administrator with the decision, using either the passive voice as in the phrase, ďThe letter was issued,Ē or the generic term ďThe CollegeĒ for the unnamed administration official or officials as in the phrases, ďThe College did not wish to facilitate this behavior,Ē and ďThe College has made a judgment.Ē In my November 3 letter, I specifically asked you who made the decision to ban me from campus; this is one of the questions you declined to answer. I am not the only person to receive a disciplinary letter signed by a St. Johnís security officer instead of an administrator, nor am I the only one to receive disciplinary action without a specific charge. Based on my own experience, other studentsí experiences, and statements in the student handbooks, I conclude that such administrative treatment of students accurately represents college policy. People with dishonest intent avoid putting reasons for their actions in writing in order to give themselves the option to change their account of the reasons at a later date. They avoid taking responsibility for decisions in order to deny later that they made those decisions. I know one student who was expelled from St. Johnís without being given a reason. She went from one administrator to another to challenge the decision, but no administrator admitted making the decision, and every administrator to whom she turned either refused to meet with her or claimed that someone else had the power to alter the decision.

When I asked you why I was banned from the college, you provided me with a number of excuses for not answering. When we spoke by telephone, you claimed that you did not know the reason. When Ms. Strow reminded you that you had previously told her that you did know, you said that I did not ask specific enough questions. When I provided you with a list of specific questions, you claimed to have lost the letter with the questions. Even if your claim to have misplaced the letter is genuine, you did not appear to have any intention of responding, for you waited over two months to request another copy of the letter you claim to have misplaced. In fact, you only made this request after you were faced with the possibility of legal action when I pointed out that your contradictory statements constituted slander.

While I thank you for belatedly answering some of my questions, you left several others unanswered. Your explanation for the refusal to answer some of my questions, that my past behavior indicates that I am not earnestly seeking information for any legitimate purpose, baffles me, especially after you requested the list of questions a second time. My purpose is straightforward. I have given an account of certain interactions between St. Johnís officials and me; many of these interactions cast the college officials in a bad light. I want to give members of the administration the opportunity to explain their version of events. Also, I want to make it more difficult for administration officials to repeatedly change their stories. Once you put something in writing, your position and account of events becomes transparent to everyone. An account can, of course, contain errors and omissions, but if you change your story later, you have to explain why you made the errors and omissions in the first account. If your story changes drastically and repeatedly, then it is likely that your version of events cannot be trusted. It is easy to make an oral statement at one time and then misremember or deny making it at a later time. When a statement is written, it creates a permanent record; you can no longer deny making the statement. You avoided answering several of my questions, and you failed to provide a convincing reason for your failure to answer. In the past, the administration has responded to criticism by saying that respect for the privacy of students prevents them from correcting statements that they claim are false or misleading. As I am giving you an opportunity to tell the administrationís account of events that directly concern me, you are not prevented from discussing them out of concern for my privacy. The fact that you still choose to remain silent suggests that perhaps the administrationís previous statements that only respect for studentsí privacy prevents full disclosure are untrue.

The privacy issues that you raise in your letter remind me of an e-mail I received from Dianne Cowan, a member of the alumni association, on February 5, 2006, three days after St. Johnís Forum came to greater public attention when it was mentioned in a Washington Post article. She made it clear in her e-mail that she spoke only for herself, not for the alumni association, the board, nor the college. She urged me to shut down the forum, arguing that there were serious issues related to the violation of studentsí privacy. I thought the issues she raised were well worth considering, and I sent her an e-mail the next day notifying her that I was not the only one involved in the forum, and I consequently did not have the authority to unilaterally shut it down, but I was willing to negotiate with the administration. I asked her to help broker a deal with the administration that would lead to St. Johnís Forum being shut down. As she returned neither my e-mails nor my telephone calls, I do not know if she reported my willingness to discuss shutting down the forum with the administration. Instead of entering into a dialogue with me, the administration banned me from the Santa Fe and Annapolis campuses with no explanation on February 10 and February 13 respectively. I believe that had the administration spoken with me at the time, I would have been convinced that the forum ought to have been shut down and I would have successfully persuaded the others involved in the forum to go along with that decision. I am still willing to talk with the administration about ways in which people can criticize administrative conduct while ensuring greater levels of privacy for students and employees involved in disputes with the college. Some people have successfully and eloquently criticized the administration without mentioning the names of individual students. Perhaps posts ought to be edited to remove the names of some students. The downside of this is, of course, that it makes it more difficult for people to verify the validity of the contents of the posts or to respond if they know additional facts about the matters under discussion. I am willing to discuss changes in forum policy; however, I am not willing to discuss shutting down the forum at this time. I have become a victim of the same disciplinary policies that I criticized, and I have consequently experienced firsthand the treatment that many other students have complained of. I feel that many administrators have acted unethically and owe me an apology for their actions; I fully realize, however, that it is unlikely that I shall receive such an apology any time in the near future, if ever. Until your recent letter, the administration has not been willing even to acknowledge that my criticism of the administration was the true reason for my being banned from campus, much less enter into a discussion with me about ways in which we can cooperate to protect studentsí and employeesí privacy while simultaneously allowing free speech without the fear of punishment. Nevertheless, if the administration is truly concerned about privacy issues, I am willing to discuss how these issues can be accommodated.

Yours Truly,

Stephen Jablon
moderator Posted - 2007 February 22 : 15:42:25
February 13, 2006

Mr. Stephen Jablon
(Old Address)

Dear Mr. Jablon,

This letter will serve to notify you that your presence on the private property of St. Johnís College will no longer be permitted. Should you return to the property, it will be considered an act of trespass. You will then be subject to arrest and prosecution under State of Maryland law.


Paul W. Mikesell
Chief of Security

cc: Judith Seeger
Assistant Dean
moderator Posted - 2007 February 22 : 15:37:46
17 January 2007

Mr. Stephen Jablon
4573 Indian Rock Terrace, N.W.
Washington, District of Columbia 20007

Dear Mr. Jablon,

Thank you for sending me another copy of the persona non grata letter that was issued sent to you on February 13, 2006. The letter was returned as undeliverable, but you were verbally informed of the decision when a security officer saw you on campus shortly thereafter.

The letter was issued in order to protect the privacy of members of this community, especially students. You had engaged in a pattern of making and disseminating inaccurate statements about students and employees, often with little or no personal knowledge of the facts or authorization of the individuals involved. Public disclosure of private information such as student discipline and personnel actions can be very harmful to the individuals involved, as can the dissemination of false or misleading information. The College did not wish to facilitate this behavior on your part by continuing to grant you the privilege of access to this campus and the community.

No further responses to your questions will be provided, as the College has made a judgment, based on your past behavior, that you are not earnestly seeking information for any legitimate purpose.


Anita L. Kronsberg
Assistant Dean

Copy to: File
moderator Posted - 2007 February 22 : 14:32:41
8 January 2007

Mr. Stephen Jablon
4573 Indian Rock Terrace N.W.
Washington, District of Columbia 20007

Dear Mr. Jablon,

I have received your letter dated 15 December 2006, which arrived during our break. In it you remind me of the earlier letter you sent, which I must confess I have misplaced. I do apologize for this; I am glad that you wrote again, however, and hope that you may still have the first letter and be willing to send or fax a copy to me at 410-295-6937. It seems to me best that I reply to the earlier letter before addressing the second, if this can be done.


Anita L. Kronsberg
Assistant Dean

Copy to: File
moderator Posted - 2007 February 22 : 14:29:34
December 15, 2006

Dear Ms. Kronsberg,

Quite frankly, I am disappointed that you chose not to respond to my letter dated November 3, 2006 requesting the reason I have been banned from the two campuses of St. Johnís College. When people ask me in the future why I have been banned from St. Johnís, I intend to answer that I was not given an official reason despite repeated requests, but I have reason to believe that it is because I criticized what I claim to be injustices perpetrated by the administration. I am disappointed that currently St. Johnís College is not a place where people are free to criticize the administration without fear of punishment, and I hope that the college adopts a more tolerant philosophy in the future.

You said two things to Ms. Strow that were untrue. First, you told her that I have been banned from the college not for anything I said or wrote, but for some infraction I committed on campus. Second, you told her that you were willing to tell me the reason. As you are aware, I was banned from the college without charge. Despite requests both by telephone and in writing, I have never been given a reason for being banned from St. Johnís, and you evidently have no intention of giving me a reason. When you told Ms. Strow that there was a reason for my being banned from the two campuses of St. Johnís College apart from my criticizing the college and that you were willing to tell me the reason, you acted to create the false impression that I had committed a serious offense. Stating untrue facts with the intention of damaging my reputation is slander, and I request that you cease and desist from making similar statements to others.

In the future, I prefer that you truthfully tell whoever asks that I was banned from campus without charge. Of course, I cannot prevent you from making no comment to such an inquiry. However, if you decide not to comment, you may not claim that it is to protect my privacy, as I hereby give permission for you to tell anyone who asks that you declined to give me a reason for being banned from St. Johnís. You must make it clear that it is your choice not to answer and must not falsely state or imply that I wish you to remain silent or that you are legally bound not to respond. You may neither claim nor suggest that I was banned from campus for the infraction of college rules as I have not been informed that this is the reason for my being banned from campus.

Additionally, I request that you contact Ms. Strow and any others to whom you have given similar information and notify them that your prior statements were erroneous. I would appreciate a response to this letter indicating either that you agree to follow these terms or giving reasons why you feel you are not legally bound to do so.

Yours Truly,

Stephen Jablon

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