Banned from campus: Policies vary widely among local universities

The issuing of barring notices, also called trespass warnings, varies widely from university to university in southwest Ohio. The Journal-News filed an open records request to obtain copies of the notices, police reports and other paperwork pertaining to individuals who had been banned from campus.

What the records showed provided a glimpse at the kind of bad behavior and activity that can get a person barred from setting foot on a public university’s grounds, permanently or for a limited time. Infractions this newspaper found ranged from playing music too loud to sexual misconduct to stealing refrigerators from a dormitory.

Miami University in Oxford has issued 19 trespass warnings or barring notices to former employees, retired professors and residents of Butler County and beyond since 2000. Meanwhile, Wright State University in Dayton has banned 185 individuals — 13 being minors — from the campus since 2007, police records indicate. University of Cincinnati officials told this newspaper the school does not keep paper records on those banned from campus, nor could it produce a report from the computer system on which trespassers are flagged.

“Trespass notices are not uncommon, not only on university campuses but all over,” said Miami University Police Chief John McCandless. “It’s not an everyday occurrence, but it happens.”

The latest case of a campus banning at Miami University was of retired professor Jay W. Baird, 78, of Oxford, who taught history for 38 years at Miami, after allegations of sexual harassment and disorderly conduct surfaced.

Baird was first issued a barring notice June 9 after two women, 22 and 27, made separate allegations against him for incidents occurring June 6 and June 9 at King Library, confirmed Claire Wagner, university spokeswoman.

The allegations were investigated by the university’s Office of Equity & Equal Opportunity (OEEO) — which handles harassment and discrimination claims. Baird — who admitted his actions to investigators, as well as this newspaper — was found to be in violation of the university’s policy and barred for five years from all affiliated campuses, according to documents dated July 25 and July 31.

Baird had reportedly approached a 27-year-old woman, working as a resident director, inside the library. The two had a friendly conversation, which led to Baird asking her out on a date, according to the police report.

The woman declined and told Baird she had a boyfriend. She later reported to the OEEO that Baird then “became agitated and said she should have told him 10 minutes ago.”

Before leaving, Baird reportedly grabbed the woman’s hand and asked if he could kiss her. After the woman said no, Baird placed a hand on her right cheek and kissed her left cheek. He also hugged the woman over her objection, according to the OEEO letter of finding.

Three days later, a second incident occurred when a 22-year-old female student, sitting at a computer cubicle, was approached by Baird. The woman knew Baird and later reported to police the then 77-year-old man had complimented her legs, made her feel uncomfortable and placed his hand on her leg just above the knee.

The incident — labeled as suspicious activity on the police report — lead to Baird being interviewed by police. He admitted to officers he was lonely and trying to get a date, according to the police report.

Two other retired professors who have been banned from Miami’s campus — both for incidents sexual in nature — were Orval M. Conner in 2000 for public indecency, and Paul Mitchell in 2009 for harassment toward female students and staff in which he had to be physically blocked from kissing and touching a female student, according to police documents.

The Journal-News requested data from the University of Cincinnati and Wright State University regarding their issuance of barring notices and trespass orders.

Lori Griffin, of the Office of General Counsel at UC, said in an emailed statement that the university maintains no paper records of individuals banned from campus.

“In the event that a person is banned from one of the university’s campuses, the University of Cincinnati Police Department flags the individual in their computer system,” Griffin said. “Unfortunately, the system cannot query that information.”

The 185 individuals banned from Wright State University in Dayton since 2007 committed a variety of offenses, according to police reports, including:

  • Three teenagers banned after they were found playing music in the Creative Arts Center
  • Seven adults banned for “unauthorized dancing” on campus
  • Five teenagers banned after roller blading and being loud
  • Two adults banned after being found masturbating in buildings
  • Four men banned following allegations of sexual offenses against two women
  • Nine adults banned for sleeping in buildings
  • Four adults banned after attempting to steal refrigerators from a dorm.

A spokesman for Wright State said the issuing of criminal trespass warnings is open ended in its use. Wright State uses the orders as both a preventive measure against future crimes, as well as a reactive measure following an actual crime or allegation, according to the university.

McCandless said it’s usually after a crime has been committed or a violation to the university policy that someone will be given a trespass notice for either the building where the activity occurred or all of campus.

“(The notices) are to allow the behavior to not occur again that’s harassing or bothersome to the university or an individual,” McCandless said. “It gets disruptive behavior to cease and desist.”

The barring notices issued by Miami were also for offenses including harassment of staff; inappropriate comments; thefts of an iPod, scrap metal and candy from a vending machine; disorderly conduct- public intoxication; carrying a knife and drug paraphernalia, according to reports.

McCandless said enforcement of trespass notices usually happens if the person doesn’t adhere to the order and is found back on campus. He said a book with all the trespass notices is maintained in the police dispatch center on campus.

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